Iran’s tourism industry has been identified for a third straight year to have the most affordable prices in the world for foreign visitors.
A biannual report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) gave Iran a score of 66.6 in terms of price competitiveness and put it ahead of global tourism players such as Egypt, Malaysia, Russia, Turkey, Greece, Spain, the US, Franc and Italy.
The last 10 countries at the bottom of the list in the same category included Peru, Australia, Denmark, Senegal, Norway, Iceland, Barbados, Britain and Switzerland.
The price competitiveness of countries in the WEF’s “Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017” were measured by comparing costs relating to travel to and from a destination (travel costs including ticket prices, taxes, fuel rates, etc) and those relating to prices within the tourism destination (ground costs including hotel prices, service rates, food prices, etc).
Iran was also given a ranking of 38 in terms of cultural resources – the number of World Heritage natural sites, total known species, total protected areas and attractiveness of natural assets.
The country outperformed several European countries including the Czech Republic (42), Denmark (43), Hungary (45), Romania (46) and Norway (47) in the same category.
At the top of the list in the same group were China, Spain, France, Japan, Italy, Germany, Britain, Brazil, India and Mexico.
Overall, the WEF report showed that Iran’s overall travel and tourism competitiveness ranking had improved by four points over the past two years.
It identified Iran as the 93rd country with the appropriate set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector. Those factors, it said, include business environment, safety and security, health and hygiene, human resources and the labor market as well as its readiness in terms of information and communication technology (ICT).
The country’s closest rivals in the Middle East with lower rankings are Lebanon (96) and Kuwait (100) and those with higher rankings include Jordan (75), Oman (66), Saudi Arabia (63), Bahrain (60), Qatar (47) and the UAE (29).
The top 10 best performing countries are Spain, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland.
The bottom 10 worst performing countries are Benin, Lesotho, Nigeria, Mali, Sierra Leon, Mauritania, Congo, Burundi, Chad and Yemen.
Overall, the report said the Middle East and North Africa, led by the United Arab Emirates (29th), had improved its travel and tourism competitiveness. Better ICT infrastructure, lower prices, partial improvements in international openness and some progress in nurturing cultural heritage have created better conditions to develop the tourism sector overall. Still, natural and cultural resources remain mostly underexploited, international openness is still limited and security perceptions remain the biggest hurdle, it emphasized.