Tourism declined dramatically during the Iran–Iraq War in the 1980s and never revived properly afterward. Iranian governors have paid most of their attention to local tourism rather than foreigners. Despite the importance of local tourism which will cause distribution of wealth among Iranian, we have to keep in mind foreign tourism imports money and wealth which is excessively more important to the country’s economy.
The main challenge Iran’s tourism industry faces, is lack of proper infrastructures for travelers and tourism firms. Other issues are of lower priority in my belief: financing problems, sanctions and embargoes, lack of promotion and advertising campaigns, cultural differences and social codes etc.
So the companies which want to establish a tourism business in Iran, or expanding their operations in this field should be prepared for such challenges. Just to give the case an example, in Iran there’s no integrated payment system connected to international banking system. There is a local network between banks called Shetab, which can’t be accessed from Visa, MasterCard etc. and cannot be connected to an Int’l merchant account as well. In Iran there is no online hotel reservation system working nationwide.
Airlines, Airports and roads are another major problem in Tourism infrastructure. Poor quality of all above means of traveling is clear and undisputed.
Extending infrastructure problems to tourism sites: Iran lacks in public services for tourists. There are no hotels in many small cities despite the potential they have for a long period of visits. There are problems in basic issues like public bathrooms, restaurants, cafe etc.
Lack of knowledge in touring and tour guiding is another issue, I consider it structural problem.
I have done a case study research on how an international tourism company can expand its operations in Iran and win the chance to make massive money while Iranian based companies and firms are failing to do so. my case is Emirates Group. please get back here for this research in two weeks (May 2010). I appreciate your comments and advices in such topic in advance.