AP Interview: Iran Preparing for ‘Tsunami’ of Tourists


TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s vice president told The Associated Press on Sunday his country is preparing for a “tsunami” of foreign tourists as Iran and world powers are set to begin implementing a landmark nuclear deal that will lift sanctions in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.

Masoud Soltanifar, who is also Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization chief, said President Hassan Rouhani’s moderate policies and the easing of visa rules are opening the door for the return of foreign tourists to Iran.

A country rich in historical and cultural treasures largely unseen by Western eyes, Iran will unveil an investment package of 1,300 projects in the coming days to attract foreign investment and boost the badly-hit tourism industry. Iran is home to 19 UNESCO-registered sites.

Even before sanctions are lifted, the number of foreigners visiting Iran has grown 12 percent in each of the past two years. In 2014, Iran hosted over 5 million tourists, bringing in some $7.5 billion in revenue.

About half were Shiite Muslims, the same religious denomination as most Iranians, and the other half were tourists from Europe, North America and east Asia.

“In the post-sanctions era, tourism is an industry that will get a boost more than any other sector,” Soltanifar told the AP. “Tourism is certainly the driving engine to get Iran’s economy out of recession. Iran’s tourism sector is a flourishing market for investors. We are anticipating a tsunami of tourists after sanctions are lifted.”

Soltanifar, a member of Rouhani’s Cabinet, said officials are trying to remove obstacles for tourists and issue visas on arrival at the airport in Tehran for nationals of 190 countries. They will be valid for 30 days, with the possibility of extending for another 15 days. Tourism authorities are also planning to issue electronic visas beginning next year, he said.

Americans and Brits will need a visa ahead of time to enter mainland Iran, according to their respective governments. In 2014, there were 3,400 American visitors to Iran, up from 1,800 in 2013, Soltanifar said.

Iran aims to host 20 million tourists a year by 2025, with expectations of growing the tourist industry to $30 billion.

Currently, Iran lacks sufficient accommodation and transportation for that number of tourists. Iran has 1,100 hotels and guest houses, 130 of them 4 and 5 star hotels.

“We need to increase our four and five star hotels from 130 to 400 in 10 years. We are providing low-interest funds out of the National Development Fund to private investors to build modern hotels,” Soltanifar said.

Read more:http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/10/18/world/middleeast/ap-ml-iran-tourism.html?_r=0

tsunami     /(t)so͞oˈnämē/  N

an arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities or amounts.

 “the tsunami of Olympic visitors”

Vice president   N

an official or executive ranking below and deputizing for a president. معاون رئيس جمهور

landmark    /ˈlan(d)ˌmärk/  N

important and likely to influence future actions or decisions

Synonyms: important, major, key…

a landmark ruling (=an important decision made in a court of law)

lift  V

formally remove or end (a legal restriction, decision, or ban).

“the European Community lifted its oil embargo against South Africa”

synonyms:   cancel, remove, withdraw, revoke, rescind, annul, void, discontinue, end, stop, terminate

“the ban has been lifted”

antonyms:  establish, impose

curb    /kɝːb/   N

(CONTROL)  a ​limit on something that is not ​wanted:

“You must try to put a curb on your bad temper/​spending habits.”

Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization                                             

سازمان میراث فرهنگی، صنایع دستی و گردشگری

Cultural Heritage    /ˈkəlCH(ə)rəl/ /ˈheritidʒ/    N                        میراث فرهنگی

Handicraft     / ˈhændɪˌkrɑːft/ N صنایع دستی

unveil   /ʌnˈveɪl/   V

to announce something officially that was previously a secret

“The president will unveil his plans for improving public education”

UNESCO   یونسکو

revenue   /ˈrevəˌn(y)o͞o/  N

income, especially when of a company or organization and of a substantial nature.

synonyms:  income, takings, receipts, proceeds, earnings, sales; profit(s)

“this month’s revenue is up 5 percent from last month”

antonyms:  expenditure

Bring in   Phv

To produce, yield, or earn (profits or income).

denomination   /dɪˌnɑm·əˈneɪ·ʃən/  N


a ​religious ​group whose ​beliefs ​differ in some ​ways from other ​groups in the same ​religion:

“The ​petition was ​signed by ​clergy from over 20 ​Protestant denominations.”

recession   /rəˈseʃən/   N

a temporary fall in a country’s or the world’s business activities

“The country is currently going through a recession.”

flourishing   /ˈflərəSHiNG/   Adj

developing rapidly and successfully; thriving.

“a flourishing career”

obstacle    /ˈɑbstək(ə)l/     N

a difficulty or problem that prevents you from achieving something

“Disabled people succeed in overcoming many obstacles in everyday life.”

“Tiredness was the biggest obstacle in the way of their attempt to rescue the climbers.”

issue     /ˈiSHo͞o/   V

to ​produce or ​provide something ​official: “The ​office will be issuing ​permits on ​Tuesday and ​Thursday ​mornings.”

“The ​school issued a ​statement about ​its ​plans to the ​press.”

“The ​school issued the ​press with a ​statement about ​its ​plans.”

authorities   /ɔˈθɔrəti/   N

an organization or institution that controls something, often a public service

“the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey”

“The rules are set by the city transit authority.”


the people of Great Britain; British people

host  /hoʊst/   V

Host (noun):

a person, place, company, or the like,that provides services, resources, etc., as for a convention or sporting event:

“Our city would like to serve as host for the next Winter Olympics.”

Host( verb):

to act as host to:

“The vice president hosted the foreign dignitaries during their visit.”

lack  /læk/  V

to not have or not have enough of something that is ​needed or ​wanted:

“ He just lacks a little ​confidence.

“What we lack in this ​house is ​space to ​store things.”

“We are lacking three ​members of ​staff ​due to ​illness.”

accommodation   /əˌkɑməˈdeɪʃ(ə)n/  N

a room, group of rooms, or building in which someone may live or stay.

“the cost includes airfare and hotel accommodations”

synonyms:  housing, lodging(s), living quarters, quarters, rooms;

place to stay, billet;

shelter, roof over one’s head;

iformal abode, residence, place of residence, dwelling, dwelling place, habitation

“temporary accommodations”

Guest house    /ˈɡestˌhaʊs/  N

a small hotel or private home where people can pay to spend the night

Low-interest   Adj

(used of loans) charging a relatively small percentage of the amount borrowed

National Development Fund      صندوق توسعه ملی