11% growth in domestic tourists visiting Kish in H1

Fnancial Tribune – A total of 930,000 domestic tourists traveled to the southern Kish resort island during the first half of the current Iranian year (March 21- Sept. 22), registering an 11% growth compared to 835,000 in last year’s corresponding period, a local official said.

Speaking to Donya-e-Eqtesad newspaper, Mohsen Qarib added that the cost of traveling to Kish Island has gone up this year compared with last year, mainly due to the rise in air ticket fares.

Referring to reasons behind the increase in the number of tourists, he said the main reason lies in the fact that many Iranians who used to travel overseas can no longer afford to do so and have switched to domestic destinations for vacationing.

According to the official, the island’s 53 hotels currently have 15,000 beds.

He says the island will face a shortage of accommodation in H2, as the number of tourists tends to double when climatic conditions improve in autumn and winter.

The cost of travelling to Kish for a three-member family during non-holiday days of the year, including accommodation in a three-star hotel, is estimated at 35-40 million rials ($308-352).

The cost exceeds 50 million rials ($440) for weekends or occasional holidays.

Kish Island has a share of less than 3% from Iran’s tourist destinations.

In contrast, the number of travelers to resort cities in northern Iran was five times more than those who visited Kish in H1.

Kish is a 91-square-kilometer resort island in the Persian Gulf, off the southern coast of Iran. It is part of the Bandar Lengeh County in Hormozgan Province.

Owing to its free trade zone status, Kish Island is touted as a consumer’s paradise, with numerous malls, tourist attractions and resort hotels.

Kish Island is the third most-visited vacation destination in Southwest Asia, after Dubai and Sharm el-Sheikh. Tourists from many foreign countries entering Kish Free Zone from legal ports are not required to obtain any visa prior to travel.

The island is about to welcome a Turkish investor who will build the Crystal Hotel with an investment of $100 million. The 1,000-room hotel will be the largest investment on the island, Daily Sabah reported in July.

Turkish tourism investor, Kilit Hospitality Group Chairman Tuncay Kilit—the owner of Crystal Hotels scattered across Turkish resort cities, has decided to invest on Kish Island, a recent attraction among Persian Gulf investors.

The hotel will have meeting rooms, separate beaches for men and women, sports areas, a water park, pools and social areas where families can spend time together.

Known as the gateway to the heart of Iran, Kish offers visitors duty-free shopping and investors are exempt from income and corporate taxes for 20 years.

Crystal Hotels, operating under Kilit Hospitality Group, have a network of 18 accommodation facilities in Turkey. Beginning its operations in the tourism and accommodation sector in 2005, Crystal Hotels has become one of the largest hotel chains in Turkey in 14 years. The hotel network has a bed capacity of 20,000 and a workforce of 7,000.

Kilit and Kish Free Trade Zone Managing Director Gholamhoseyn Mozaffari signed the deal last week for the investment project to be built on an area of 10 hectares.

In his address after the signing ceremony, Mozaffari said many investors from Qatar, Oman and Iraq are showing high interest in Kish and noted that investment on the island will rise significantly in the near future.

The Securities and Exchange Organization of Iran recently gave the go-ahead to the High Council of Free Zones to issue 3,000 billion rials ($26.38 million) worth of bonds to finance development projects in Kish Free Trade Zone, which could rise to 10,000 billion rials ($87.95 million), Secretary of the High Council of Free Zones Morteza Bank said.

“Funds raised through the issue of sukuk must be used to invest in infrastructure projects on Kish Island, including the development of Kish International Airport, port and logistics as well as ICT infrastructures,” Bank was quoted as saying by IRIB News.