Source: Tehran Times
Iranian Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Ali Tayyebnia says the administration of President Hassan Rouhani believes that the promotion of tourism is the key to job creation and economic growth. Ecotourism and medical tourism are the top priorities, the IRNA news agency quoted Tayyebnia as saying on Thursday.
One of the main prerequisites is the expansion of hotels and the improvement of accommodation and recreation services, he added.
The government is planning to promote hotel management and provide support to the private sector as part of its plan to increase investment in the tourism sector, he said.
Foreign visitors to Iran are the most visible effect of President Rouhani's drive to mend relations with the West, an influx that generated as much as $5 billion for the country's sanction-hit economy over the past year. For the first time since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, international hotel chains are now plotting a return, while European airlines are adding or restoring links with Tehran.
Now, tour operators are hoping the thawing of political relations with the West will give travelers the reassurance they need to return.
The Rouhani administration has announced plans to ease visa requirements to increase the number of visitors and boost annual income from tourism from $5 billion today to $10 billion.
On June 23, the deputy director of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization said visits to Iran by foreign tourists rose 215 percent in spring 2014 compared to spring 2013.
"Over 23,600 foreign tourists visited Iran in the three-month period, compared with 7,500 last year," CHTHO Deputy Director Morteza Rahmani-Movahed added.
Most of the foreign tourists who visited Iran in spring 2014, which corresponds to the first quarter of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21-June 21), came from European countries, Australia, South Korea, Japan, and China.
In July 2013, Iranian Deputy Economy Minister Behrouz Alishiri said Iran would try to lure foreign investors with tax exemptions ranging as high as 100 percent. Iran needs annual domestic and foreign investment of about $300 billion until 2015 to meet its economic objectives, Alishiri added.
Business Monitor said in its April report that the Iranian economy will return to growth in 2014, as the improvement in relations with the West and better macroeconomic management will lead to an improved outlook for exports and increased business and consumer confidence.
Recent improvements in relations with the West bode well for the country's economy, which is forecast to expand by 2.9 percent in 2015, according to the report.
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