The next destination of startups: tourism

It’s about 20 years that tourism economy has become important in Iran and there are many measures done in this regards


Tourism is not a recreational, personal or family issue, but it’s a big industry that has a special competitive distinctions.

It is referred to as green economy; that is the economy which has the lowest level of environmental pollution and high added value.

Countries like USA, France, England, China and … allocate a special share for earning money from tourism.

It’s about 20 years that tourism economy has become important in Iran and there are many measures done in this regards.Authorities in this field consider a share more than 5 percent of GDP for tourism.

Even tourism economy of our country is introduced as the most important possible replacement of oil economy.

On the other hand, Iran with 21 works registered in UNESCO is among important countries of the world in this field.

Also in recent years, it has been among 20 attractive countries regarding cultural heritage and tourism.

According to annual statistics, more than 5 million foreign tourists have entered Iran pilgrimage passengers and tourists who need services.

All these have caused tourism industry to have vast capacities for launching business; businesses that can be launched as startup and open a new gate of businesses towards Iran startup ecosystem.

Ecosystem that maybe rely on its repetition and see many similar businesses but in this report and in discussion with authorities, tour leaders and experts we talk about horizons in front of those interested in launching startup in the field of tourism.

More than 100 online business applicants in the field of tourism

Ali Rafee, deputy head of tourism of Tehran cultural heritage talks about suitable infrastructures for launching such businesses:

“planning and policy making of general administration of Tehran cultural heritage is based on the fact that it issues required legal permissions in the shortest time possible for those interested in this field.

Even there are supports for top plans. If they aren’t registered as a company, we give them legal permissions so than they can do their business.

Currently, more than 1000 applicants in the field of tourism product and service supply and sale or marketing and advertisement and introducing tourism attractions have referred to us.”

he talks about the information they are ready to offer to owners of startup ideas and says:

“in the field of tourism and progress of creative businesses, we started too late but we hope we can attract many tourists and provide optimized service.

For achieving this goal, we have counted on startup ideas of young people and we know that we would success if we do it right.”

He adds: “each year more than 1500.000 foreign tourists enter Tehran and even Tehran has many attractions that we can launch businesses based on the needs of these tourists and even if they can work in a small range, they can make enough money.”

Rafee adds: “I even look at this topic from a different angle and that is the service that startups can offer to tourism industry.

The more we more towards designing and launching software and sites for introducing environmental attractions and offer better service to tourists, we would provide the opportunity for their presence in our country.

We produce international content

Arash NoorAghaee, secretary of tourist guides association of Iran who is considered one of Iranian tourists, believes that tourism has high capacities for launching startup.

He attends startup weekends and says: “at first I should say that we haven’t used tourism for money making completely.

There are startups that are formed and work dependently and independently but I always believe that new ideas can make a change in tourism industry.

At first we should support them and look for achieving final process that is increasing the number of tourists and earning money. Therefore, holding startup weekends events in the field of tourism is not enough and we should operate new and creative ideas.

He indicates to different parts of tourism for launching startups: “tourism has five main parts including transportation, accommodation, recreational service, tour leaders and … and we can launch startups in all these areas.

I should add that transportation is not limited to train and airplane ticket reservation but startups can be launched that for example cars would be provided to tourists in different places.

Because there is a need and if someone invests on it, he/she can make money in his/her living place.”

He also points to the field of handicrafts and says: “this is another vast and important field that exists in tourism industry and can be the base for high profit businesses.

Many startups have launched in this field and selling these products on web has a good growth. Even big stores like DigiKala have allocated a part for selling artworks.”

NoorAghaee explains that the most important issue is producing international content in different languages.

He adds: “right now there are more than 250 kinds of tourisms across the world based on current categorizations and all can be the base for creative businesses.

We can even launch startup over the relation of each kind of tourism with music, film, handicrafts and …. All these solutions are a kind of providing services that we have provided less so far but they can contribute to added value.

Even producing international content contributes to creation of safe image of Iran in global communities and among people of different countries.

When such an image is provided, more tourists would enter Iran and they become the food of startups in the end. I should add that preparing multimedia content in different international language can attract the attention of tour leaders in different countries.

In the global tourism convention held in Iran, 320 tour leaders from 52 nations came to Iran and the more we offer them Iran attractions, they can bring more tourists to Iran.”

He says that the most important goal in the field of tourism is culture making based on professional and international content production:

“if we want tourists to come to Iran, we should provide a positive image of Iran in foreign media so that we can make infrastructure for tourists to enter Iran.”

Reserve tourism guide

Amir Shadloo, CEO of training and tourism company of Arasbaran, is another expert in this field who has a positive insight towards tourism for launching new businesses.

Businesses usually with online nature that meet daily needs of foreign and domestic tourists. He says:

“at first we should know that we deal with a service-based industry that has many capacities for employment with little capital and its business space is very vast in terms of culture, history, ecology and creation.

Even if a person doesn’t have any creation and follow others, he/she can hope that making money is possible. Here the big mistake is to count on government financial support. In fact we should count on regional capacities.

Tourism is a good opportunity for launching businesses in which the government doesn’t have any interference. Government should only define general policies and provide the infrastructure for foreign tourists to enter Iran.But financial support from government leads to the failure of a business.”

He also points to Ross Pakley sayings, the head of academic ecotourism research community in Australia, who participated in investment conference in Iran and said:

“you are the people who are drowned in global heritage but you can’t see well and don’t know that you have historical-cultural heritage each of which can be an opportunity for launching a business.”

CEO of training and tourism company of Arasbaran talks about current opportunities for launching startups of tourism:

“those who produce good content in the form of text, film and photo, can both work as a subcategory of different companies in the field of tourism and offer this content in the form of an application.

Applications can include content of selling products, providing service and even training. For example, there is a site in the global level that is for selecting private tour leader.

If you are in a country and want to select a destination, you can select your own tour leader and reserve him/her. Even if a person is interested in this matter, he/she can refer to us and our company is ready to support him/her and launch a startup in this field.

We give support; both facilities and place

Deputy of handicrafts of the country has recently introduced a software that contains a complete information from more than 40,000 workshops of handicraft in Iran.

Because handicraft is a part of cultural heritage and tourism, Hojjat MoradKhani talks about this field and services provided through this application to tourists and artists:

“Mahita is an application that is created with cooperation of private and public sector. This software contains information about workshop producing handicrafts across the country.

Each workshop has its own private account and all of its information such as photo, film, images of products and … is loaded in this software.

So far, more than 4,000 workshops across the country have been put on this software.”
he continues: “this contributes to identification, access and buyer selection.

This is the first time that this collection creates an integrated communication chain in cyberspace and in the field of handicrafts.

This software is location-based and all workshops are on the Google map. Each person can install this app on its mobile phone and in each city he/she can find the best handicraft workshops.

Especially in tourism seasons, it provides a good opportunity for buying handicraft to tourists. In fact, the goal of deputy of handicraft was to help tourist and buyer attraction and promoting this field by activating a wide part of cultural heritage of the country. Thus the best space is cyberspace and using online business capacities.”

He also pointed to launching online stores of handicrafts and allocating a content for introduction of cities and places and different areas and adds:

“according to the news general director of handicraft export has said, more than 170 handicraft sites are active in the country. This doesn’t mean that it is saturated.

The culture of buying handicrafts and tourism service is created in web space. Thus it is vital in the field of tourism to introduce facilities and create attraction for foreign and domestic tourists.

When a historical, cultural situation, even attractive places in the form of film, picture and text is introduced, people would be inspired to travel.

When the intention of travel comes and the tourist enters the country or from one city to another, web space can help the best; from making electronic visa to providing different tour packages in this space.”

MoradKhani also points to the readiness of deputy of handicrafts for providing necessary services to those interested in launching startups in this field and says:

“deputy of handicrafts is ready to help launching startups. It can also offer basic information and data to those who are interested.”

Moreover, cultural heritage organization with cooperation of Omid Entrepreneurship Fund is considered facilities up to 100 million tomans for those who work in the field of handicraft and it even offers a place for up to 6 months.

It is ready to provide facilities to founders of startups related to handicrafts.”

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