How ‘Half of the World’ is attracting tourists to Iran

Al-Monitor- Since the election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013, Iran’s tourism industry has witnessed its biggest growth since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The growth saw an even more significant boost following the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in January 2016. Indeed, in recent years, Iran has been among the most frequently suggested travel destinations worldwide. Business Insider and Bloomberg have both named Iran to be among the “Top 50” and “Top 20” destinations to visit in 2017. Official figures show the number of foreign tourists visiting Iran in 2015 topped 5.2 million — up from nearly 3.5 million in 2012 — and the booming industry has brought the country billions of dollars in revenue and created badly needed jobs.

Reihaneh Ahsanizadeh, an English-speaking tour guide in Tehran, said there has been a surge in the number of foreign tourists during the past year. “Cities such as Tehran, Isfahan, Kashan, Yazd, Kerman and Shiraz are the top destinations for foreign visitors,” she told Al-Monitor.

Of these cities, Isfahan has been one of the most consistently popular choices for both local and foreign travelers due to its rich and impressive architectural sites, ranging from royal palaces to magnificent bridges. Located in Iran’s interior, Isfahan was once one of the largest and most important cities in West and Central Asia. Its position at the crossroads of the main overland trade routes contributed to its becoming the Iranian capital during the Safavid era (1502-1736). The rule of Shah Abbas (1588-1629) was a particularly prosperous time for Isfahan, and many monuments and buildings for which the city is renowned today were constructed during this time.

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