Data released by the World Bank, shows that more than 4.9 million tourists and travelers entered Iran in 2014 and official statistics shows 5.2 million tourists visited Iran in 2015. Iran intends to raise the number of foreign tourists to 20 million by 2025.
Study of statistics during the periods of three presidents, shows that there is an average, 12% annual increase rate in the number of tourists and travelers entering Iran.
Ebrahim Pourfaraj, chairman of the Iranian Tour Operators Association said the number of foreign visitors to the country has increased in January 2016 after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “Top hotels in Iran’s leading tourism cities (Isfahan, Shiraz, and Yazd) have been reserved by travel agencies for foreign tourists in 2017 and currently, we face shortage of appropriate hotel facilities in cities receiving the most tourists. Many top hotels in cities such as Isfahan, Yazd, Shiraz and Tehran are reserved for seminars and gatherings during mid-March to mid-June and again from mid-September to mid-November.”
Also, Head of Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Masood Soltanifar said about 170 four- and five-star hotels would become operational within five years.
In addition, foreign investors are more eager to invest in Iran’s tourism infrastructures such as hotel construction, he said. He mentioned that 35 four- and five-star hotels have been inaugurated in the past three years.
Currently, 1,750 hotels and hotel-apartments are under construction across the country.
Approximate to eight trillion Rials (USD 266 million) was allocated by National Development Fund to complete 70 tourism projects during March 2014-March 2016, he noted.
He also pointed to the willingness of foreign investment groups to operate in Iran. Negotiations have been held with German and Turkish hotel construction groups, he said.
The number of foreign tourists and travelers would cross the five-million mark by mid-March 2017.
Despite these hopeful news, some political problems with Saudi Arabia and its allies, caused decrease of Arab tourists specially in Mashhad such that average occupancy rate of Hotels in Mashhad fell drastically.
: Immigration Status and Outlook
Less than 4 percent of Iranian civilians are immigrants. The biggest immigrants groups are Afghans. It is estimated more than 2.5 million afghan people live in Iran. Iraqis, Pakistanis, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis also live in Iran in small groups less than 100,000 people. Most immigrants living in Iran, do not have a good socio economic condition.
It is estimated 5 to 6 million Iranian live outside of Iran. Most of them are Iranians who left the country after revolution 1979, but during president Ahmadinejad era it is estimated that about 100,000 people left the country. Some estimations say total wealth of Iranian outside country amounts more than 1,300 billion USD.
Most of travelers and tourists in Iran, come from neighboring countries such as Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. Western tourists and tourists from East Asia are in the next steps with a serious difference in numbers.
As Iran is the largest Shiite country with some religious holy Shiite places, most of neighborhood tourists will come to Iran for Religious purposes, it is estimated 35% of all tourists are religion tourists who mostly visit Mashhad and Qom.
Iran has relatively good Medicine experts, and affordable medical expenses, Medical tourism is the second purpose of neighbor travelers. For the last few years, official bodies and local hospitals have claimed that Iran gets 30,000 medical tourists plus 200,000 health and wellness tourists, but have the grace to admit it. They really have no idea on figures, as there are no statistics, so it is just a wild guess. It is estimated maximum 10% of total tourism belongs to medical tourism, Tehran is the main destination of Medical Tourism, but also Mashhad, Tabriz and Shiraz are other medical destinations. In 2014, about 14,000 foreign patients sought treatment in Mashhad.
Cultural tourism constitutes main purpose of western tours, however, it is estimated 15% of all tourism purposes relates to cultural tourism. Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Kashan are most fascinating destinations for cultural tourists. Moreover, there is a 5% Eco-Adventure tourism (Trekking, Safari, Biking …)
Business travelers also are a relatively big group of all travelers to Iran which are estimated about 35%. Tehran is the main destination of Business Travelers.
FAR Law Firm