Accor becomes first to operate in Iran since 1979

After Iran's 1979 revolution, major international brands like Sheraton, Hyatt and Hilton were expelled from the country

The new Tehran hotels
The new Tehran hotels

Since 1979, when Iran underwent an Islamic revolution and expelled all international hotel operators, the conservative country hasn’t welcomed a foreign hotelier.

All that changed on Tuesday, when Accor Hotels announced that it has signed a management agreement with Iranian company Aria Ziggurat Tourism Development Company.

The mid-scale Novotel IKIA and budget Ibis IKIA are scheduled to open next month and represent a total of 492 keys and are connected to Imam Khomeini International Airport.

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As of the time this article went to press, Hotelier Middle East has not received a response from Accor on how long it has been negotiation its presence in Iran.

After the 1979 revolution, major international hotel groups such as Hyatt, Sheraton and Hilton, were asked to leave the country, with the hotel management going to the Iranian government.

Due to these actions as well as economic sanctions, the hotels, though still marked as four- and five-star, which are more likely to receive a three-star rating when assessed by international standards.

Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO, Accor Hotels, said: “We are very excited about signing this partnership with Aria Ziggurat in Iran. We are certain that Novotel and ibis will fit perfectly into the growth momentum that Iran’s hospitality sector is enjoying.

“Our brands are looking at huge growth potential in this country, which is home to almost 80 million people and is expanding its economy. Our ambition is to develop an important network in the country thanks to our global portfolio of brands covering all segments, from luxury to midscale and economy.”

Bazin also said that the group hopes to operate 20+ hotels in the newly-opened Shia Muslim country. While some of these would be Sofitel, Pullman and Novotel, most will be Ibis, he said.

Dr. Mehdi Jahangiri, chairman, Aria Ziggurat Tourism Development Company, said: “We believe the expertise of international hospitality groups will upgrade local standards and existing levels of service in our hotels, and ultimately add value to our business.”

He went on: “Today is a historical day in Iran’s tourism industry.” He added that Accor’s news could pave the way for other international brands to come to Iran.

“This important agreement with Accor Hotels for the management of Novotel and ibis IKIA hotels in Tehran is a prosperous beginning that defines our new offer of hotel service along with an Iranian taste of hospitality and rich culture to our valued customers, partners and employees,” Jahangiri concluded.

Jahangiri, the brother of Iran’s first vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, serves as MD of Iran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Investment Corporation and has worked with the Tehran Chamber of Commerce.

Aria Ziggurat is a private company established and registered in 2010 and along with 37 other sister companies, is a member of Tourism Financial Group, a holding company with the aim of developing the tourism and hospitality industry in Iran.

Accor Hotels currently manages 71 hotels (17,300 rooms) in the Middle East, spanning every segment from luxury to economy, in 10 countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.


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