For the first time in 35 years, Iran’s tourism balance was in the positive territory this year [ends March 20, 2015]. According to a March 14 issue of Donyay-e Eghtesad, a daily that focuses on economic issues, that is one of the 10 most important developments in Iran’s tourism sector in the 12-month period. The following is a partial translation of a report the daily carried:
1. Tourism balance landed in positive territory
According to tourism officials, in the summer [of 2014], foreign arrivals in the country outnumbered departures by some 80,000, landing the country’s tourism balance in the positive territory for the first time in more than 35 years.
2. Intelligence minister announced visa waiver with 12 countries
At a meeting with tourism officials in April, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said the country needs to make optimal use of tourism. The unprecedented meeting, which received widespread news coverage, suggested that there has been a change of approach at a high state level to tourism.
3. Airfares were liberalized
In May the Supreme Aviation Council liberalized airfares. Under the new arrangements there will be no floor under fares, but there is a ceiling for the prices airlines charge passengers.
4. Iranian Tourism Org. and World Tourism Org. signed a deal
In June, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization signed a memorandum of understanding to boost bilateral cooperation.
5. Foreign media welcomed coverage of Iran tourist attractions
Also in June, a delegation of German media representatives arrived in Iran to cover beautiful places across Iran. The move was designed to make it possible for foreign media to learn about Iran’s tourism potential firsthand.
6. Tourism Org. was admitted to Supreme Non-Oil Exports Council
In August, the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization was given a seat and the right to vote at the Supreme Non-Oil Exports Council.
7. Golden Eagle Train arrived in Iran
The Golden Eagle Danube Express, a European private train with 67 passengers on board, arrived in Iran in late October.
8. Iran landed on the list of top 2015 destinations
In late 2014, some renowned websites including Business Insider put Iran on the list of the likely top tourist destinations in 2015.
9. Iran won the right to host WFTGA convention in 2017
In late January 2015, Iran was named the host of the 2017 convention of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations.
10. Iran’s first airport hotel was inaugurated
And in late February the first 4- and 5-star airport hotels of the country were inaugurated outside Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.