More than 6 million people visited Iran in the year ending March 2017, up 50% on the previous year and three times the number in 2009, according to official data.
(CNN) — The surge in visitors follows the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that resulted in many sanctions being lifted early the following year.
European airlines such as British Airways and Lufthansa (DLAKY) resumed direct flights to the country, and Iranian authorities relaxed visa requirements. And as more people arrive, demand for accommodation is skyrocketing.
That’s creating opportunities for local entrepreneurs and foreign businesses.
Unlike some Western firms, who are reluctant to invest in Iran because they fear President Trump could yet torpedo the nuclear deal, international hotel chains are moving fast to meet the need for more rooms.
France’s Accor (ACCYY) was the first chain to open in Iran in 2015. It now operates two hotels there.