Nuclear deal, lifting of sanctions may give Iran’s tourism industry a boost

TEHRAN, Iran – Drivers honked their horns and dozens of Iranians cheered in a main square and boulevard of the capital Tehran on Tuesday, welcoming their country’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers, which they hope will mean an end to isolation and sanctions that have crippled the economy, and potentially boost their tourism industry.

“I’m very happy,” gushed Azizieh Habibi,a 46-year-old housewife with two college-age children, who was among those celebrating on Tehran’s Vali-e Asr Avenue. Some waved flags, some had painted their faces in the flag’s red, white and green colours, chanting thanks to Rouhani and his top negotiator, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Iranians have been suffering for years from the pain of sanctions, which have battered the economy, fueling unemployment. Rouhani’s talk of a dialogue with the world – and the lure of an end to sanctions – was key to his victory in 2013 presidential elections. In exchange for agreeing to limits on its nuclear program and new provisions for inspections of Iranian facilities, Iran stands to receive a broad lifting of international sanctions and more than $100 billion in assets frozen overseas.

The deal may slowly changes Iran’s image an an international pariah, or member of the ‘Axis of Evil’ as per former President Bush, thus encouraging more tourism to the largely unknown country to Western tourists. The lifting of sanctions will also make logistics and financial transactions easier for tour operators and hoteliers alike.

Abu Dhabi based Rotana hotels groups has confirmed that it is opening four hotels in Iran, while AccorHotels, is said to be involved in two hotels near the Tehran airport.

The Lonley Planet says “if travel is most rewarding when it surprises, then Iran might just be the most rewarding destination on Earth. If you fancy travelling somewhere neither East nor West, and exotic and fascinating yet perfectly comfortable, then Iran is the place for you.”

Iran has many ancient sites and historical buildings, plus just added two new UNESCO World Heritage status sites:

– The archaeological mounds and Ardeshir’s palace along the Shavur River in Iran. Known as Susa, the site was continuously settled from the 5th century B.C. until the 13th century.

– The Maymand valley region of central Iran inhabited by semi-nomadic people who move between mountain pastures and caves depending on the season.

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