Iran’s Potentials in Tourism Industry (Part 2)

Iran is the Cheapest Destination in the World![1]

According to the report, Iran is the 89th country in the world in the field of tourism and travel, and is ranked 11th among the 15 countries in the Mena region. One of the indicators examined in travel and tourism policies is the price competitiveness index. Changes in the exchange rate in Iran have made it rank first in the world in this index. Low airport tolls, cheap fuel and high purchasing power of foreign tourists in Iran, caused it to rank first in terms of price competitiveness. In addition, natural and cultural resources are another strength of Iran in attracting foreign tourists.

Iran’s Tourism Industry in the Region and the World in 2018

In 2018, the direct share of tourism in Iran’s GDP was $ 7.10 billion, equivalent to 5.2 percent of GDP in the whole country. This share is expected to remain unchanged from 2019 to 2025. In 2018, Iran was ranked 19th in terms of direct tourism share of GDP among the 23 countries surveyed.

According to the report of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in 2018, the number of employees in the tourism sector in Iran is estimated at one million and 654 thousand people, which is equivalent to half a percent (0.51 percent) of total employment in the tourism sector in the world. Considering the nearly 24 million employed in the economic sector in Iran, the tourism sector, with 1,654,000 employees, accounts for 9.6 percent of the country’s total employment. In 2020, this number goes down to only 6.5%, while in Georgia, it was 21 percent, and in Turkey, it was 8 percent. The World Travel and Tourism Council has also predicted that the number of employees in the tourism sector in the world by 2028 will reach about 413 million people, while in Iran, this number will be less than two million people (1,914,000 people). Accordingly, in the coming years, worldwide, 90 million of new employees in the tourism sector will be added; Iran’s share of this increase will be, however, only 260,000.

Despite having significant capacities in tourism, Iran has not been able to use these capacities as they should be. The tourism sector accounted for 4.2% of GDP in 2020, compared to 7.5% for Qatar and 7% for Saudi Arabia.

Statistics of Foreign Tourist Arrivals in Iran[2]

The number of tourists entering Iran has been questioned in the tourism industry for some time. The World Tourism Organization publishes statistics that do not match the statistics of the authorities of the Cultural Heritage Organization. Mehrdad Baouj Lahouti, a member of the tourism fraction in parliament, rejected the statistics announced by Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization and stressed that the figure of 5 million foreign tourists in 2019 is not accurate.

The MP emphasizes: The statistics of tourists and their arrival in different countries in the world are calculated based on hotel accommodation, but we calculate these statistics based on crossing the border.

Rejecting the statistics of 5 million tourists mentioned by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization, he added: “Many of these 5 million tourists who have been registered have only crossed our borders but have not stayed in the country even for one night.” That is why the World Tourism Organization has calculated the number of foreign tourists in Iran to be about one million.

According to the Director-General of Iran’s Tourism Monitoring and Evaluation of the Cultural Heritage in 2017, the tourist population was five million 113 thousand 524 people, which compared to 2016, with 4,901,084 passengers, experienced a positive growth of 4.23%. He also added that the total number of tourists who traveled to Iran from the European Union in 2017 was 257,219, which was slightly higher in 2016 to 289,148.

Foreign Tourists Entering Iran[3]

Foreign tourist arrivals in the first five months of 2016-2018

First five months of the year 2016


2183422 foreign tourists


First five months of the year 2017


2159882 foreign tourists


First five months of the year 2018

3140003 foreign tourists

Ranking of countries that have the most tourists in Iran in the first five months of 2018


1,263,000 tourists



619,570 tourists



400,000 tourists



330,000 tourists

Europeans traveling to Iran in the first 5 months of 2018


22% reduction


24% reduction

The Netherlands

25% reduction

Iran’s Regulations During Corona Pandemic[4]

 One of the recent concerns of travelers worldwide is the corona regulation in their destination country. Iran has made it easy for travelers to enter this mesmerizing land. Vaccinated passengers are exempted from submitting a negative corona PCR test certificate upon arrival and travel to Iran. According to Iran’s authorities, all passengers over the age of 12 are required to present either a valid certificate of two doses of the corona vaccine (digital vaccination card) or submit a negative PCR test result with 72 hours of validity when entering Iran. It is worth mentioning that the answer to the PCR test and the vaccination card must be in English and have a QR code.