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While Iran Waits on the West, Tehran Opens Hospital Hotel for Medical Tourists

Where: Tehran , Iran
March 4, 2014 at 3:36 PM | by | ()

Most Americans don't think of Iran as a country to be visited, but believe it or not, it has been hard at work trying to build its tourism industry and hotel scene after announcing in the fall that it would relax its visa requirements.

The U.S. was not on the list of countries able to obtain a visa-on-arrival, however the LA Times reported in December that tour operators have seen "a surge of bookings and questions about Iran in recent months." Further proving the point of increased American interest is the fact that Marriott has talked about investing in the Iranian market.

Despite political differences, Iran is rich in cultural and adventure travel opportunities, attracting over 4 million tourists in 2012. Yet because of the on-going nuclear situation and the negative perception many foreigners have of Iran, this is all a wait and see sort of approach, one that will develop slowly and probably only go as far as the political gains made when it comes to western tourism from the States and Europe.

Iran isn't waiting around for the west, though -- it's trying to kick start things now via health tourism with a hotel/hospital combination. Called Gandhi Hospital Hotel, it has 17 hospital floors and 21 hotel floors, with over 17 operation rooms. "Gandhi hospital hotel is providing the most advanced medical services in spaces common between hospital and hotel for the first time in the Middle East. We want to change the patients' mentality and help them recover faster when they experience services they cannot find in an ordinary hospital", Doctor Mohammad Hassan Bani Assad, the General Manager of the hospital, told PressTV.ir Beyond revenue from medical services, the hope is that visitors will be exposed to Tehran in the process and create positive press as it relates to the charm of the city. You can get a peek into the building in the above video.

We certainly don't expect you to run off to Iran for your next colonoscopy, nor do we expect you to book a room at the hospital as a home base to tour the city. But you should keep your eye on Iran over the next few years. If a major hotel company such as Marriott makes a significant investment, we could see perceptions start to change and travel to this once locked-down country might not seem like such a wild idea.

[Photo: presstv.ir]

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