Paris-based AccorHotels announced today a new partnership with Iran-based Aria Ziggurat Tourism Development to manage two hotels at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.

The Novotel and ibis-flagged properties represent the first Western hotel management contract signed in Iran since the July 2015 Iran nuclear deal framework formalized by Iran, the U.S., France, Britain, Russia, China and others.

AccorHotels currently manages 71 hotels in 10 other Middle Eastern countries. The 296-room, midscale Novotel IKIA and 196-room, economy ibis IKIA in Iran are scheduled to open in October this year.

AccorHotels’ chairman and CEO, Sébastien Bazin, alluded to ambitious development goals throughout Iran during a press conference in Tehran today.

“Our brands are looking at huge growth potential in this country, which is home to almost 80 million people and is expanding its economy,” he said. “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.”

Dr. Mehdi Jahangiri, chairman of Aria Ziggurat, added that the two hotels will be infused “with an Iranian taste of hospitality and rich culture.”

Presently, there’s a lot of untapped potential for Tehran’s future as a business travel hub for Western hospitality and tourism companies. According to FlightStats, only 23 air carriers provide service for around 12 million passengers annually at Imam Khomeini airport to destinations throughout Iran, Europe and Asia.

According to the Wall Street Journal today, “French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in July was one of the first Western officials to visit the country following the signing of the accords and French corporations have historically been some of the most active companies in the country.”

In August, both the U.S. Department of State and the UK government updated their travel warnings for Iran.

The U.S. statement reads, “Some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States.” For U.S. citizens traveling in Tehran, the Swiss Consulate is acting on behalf of U.S. visitor interests.

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office recommends that Western travelers remain at least 60 miles away from the Iran/Afghanistan border.

Tour operators with programs in Iran are expecting a jump in business, such as London-based Travel The Unknown. You can read their Iran blog here.

Tags: iran
Photo Credit: A street scene in the Fīsherābād district in Tehran. Flickr