Masoud Soltanifar, the president of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, has been quoted by the media as saying that the countries with which Iran plans to lift the visa requirements will be from a total of 40 countries that Iran plans to expand cooperation in the area of the tourism industry.
Soltanifar added that Iran is also working on a separate plan to promote tourism cooperation with 15 neighboring states.
He further emphasized that official figures show there has been an increase of 12 percent in the number of foreign tourists who have visited Iran over the past two years.
This, the official emphasized, is while the number of visits by foreign tourists at the international level has shown an increase of only 6.4 percent over the same period.
Soltanifar had earlier announced that some five million foreign tourists visited Iran last year, spending at least $7.5 billion.
He had also stressed that Iran will need to attract some 20 million foreign visitors by 2025, an ambitious campaign which is expected to fetch the country at least $30 billion.
Iran hosts some of the world’s oldest cultural monuments, including 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and its varied terrain ranges from desert locales to ski resorts.
The country has devised a series of plans to bring its hospitality standards to international levels. To the same effect, related companies from Germany, Greece, South Korea and Singapore are already discussing hotel projects with Iran.
Europe’s largest hotel group Accor has already built two four-star hotels at Imam Khomeini International Airport outside the capital, Tehran.
Also, the UAE-based Rotana plans to open a five-star 600-room hotel in Tehran and another in the city of Mashhad, which attracts millions of pilgrims each year.