More than 85,000 foreign tourists visited Isfahan Province in Farvardin—the first month of the Iranian year (March 21–April 20), breaking a 40-year record.
That is more than a third of the total number of inbound tourists in Isfahan (280,000) in March 2013-17.
This is particularly interesting because foreign tours are generally advised to avoid coming to Iran in the first two weeks of Farvardin, since it is the high travel season for Iranians out to spend the Norouz (Iranian New Year) holidays.
Isfahan, a historical province with two world heritage sites, is a popular destination for both Iranian and foreign holidaymakers, but such an influx of overseas travelers in just one month had not happened since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“Tourists from 44 countries visited Isfahan in Farvardin,” Fereydoun Allahyari, the head of the provincial office of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, told ICHHTO’s news website on Monday.
“This is unprecedented in the past four decades,” he declared.
The French ranked first and were followed by German, Italian and Spanish tourists.
“Tourism to Isfahan has grown by 400% since the current government came to power (in August 2013),” Allahyari said.
The growing number of tourists has put pressure on local officials to fast-track plans to build more hotels and increase the province’s capacity to host tourists.
“The goal is to quadruple our capacity” in the next two years, the official said, adding that “there are plans to build 63 hotels”.
According to Isfahan Mayor Mehdi Jamalinejad, 80% of all construction projects in the city will help tourism in one way or
another. Iran’s goal is to attract 20 million tourists annually by 2025 and infrastructure development in Isfahan, which is one of the most-visited destinations in the country, is essential to realize the ambitious goal.
Last week, the city launched a raft of new technological upgrades to city services, including a new “Information Kiosk” in a prime location near the Zayandehroud river.
Along with Tabriz, Isfahan was designated “World Crafts City” by the World Crafts Council in September2015, becoming the only Iranian city to have the honor.
The historical city boasts two world heritage sites in Naqsh-e-Jahan Square and Jame’ Mosque.