Iran’s tourism and business industries are gearing up for rapid growth following the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, as part of a new nuclear deal signed Tuesday in Vienna.
Several Western hotel chains and tour operators are making initial inquiries in Iran, according to a report in the Daily Mail, and local providers are preparing for a new wave of tourists.
According to a report in the Guardian, Iran saw a spike in tourism after the 2013 election of the relatively moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, whose government subsequently took steps to ease visa requirements for visitors and build some 200 new hotels to accommodate tourists. Eleven of them were built in 2015 alone, according to an Iranian tourism official who spoke to CBS.
“No other industry in Iran will see a bigger boost than tourism as the result of this deal,” said Iran’s vice-president for tourism, Masoud Soltanifar, after the nuclear deal was announced. “The news about the nuclear agreement and lifting of economic sanctions has delighted our tourism industry.”
Meanwhile, business and political leaders are wasting no time in trying to tap into a large and what they hope will be a lucrative Iranian market.
Germany is dispatching a large trade delegationto Tehran on Sunday, including members of industry giants like Linde, Siemens, Mercedes-Daimler and Volkswagen. Spain has a similar trip planned, and France’s top diplomat is eyeing a visit too. Ads for European cars and luxury goods are starting to reappear in Tehran. Airlines in Dubai are fast adding new Iran routes to meet growing demand.
American firms, though, will have to be much more cautious. Deal or no deal, US sanctions not related to the nuclear program will still be in place and bar most American companies from doing business with Iran.
On paper, Iran holds plenty of promise. Two and a half times the size of Texas, it is home to some 80 million people, sits atop the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and the second-biggest stores of natural gas, and has well-established manufacturing and agricultural industries contributing to a $400 billion economy.
London-based Capital Economics estimates the economy could surge ahead by 6-8 percent annually over the next several years as sanctions ease.
Assuming the deal goes ahead as planned it will still take at least several months until nuclear-related sanctions are lifted. And those sanctions can be slapped back on if Iran fails to live up to its end of the bargain, according to the deal
That means many multinationals are unlikely to commit to big investments in the immediate future, though the staggered sanctions relief also gives companies time to gear up their operations, analysts say.
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