Iran is about to welcome what appears to be its first Western hotel chain since 1979.
French hotel group Accor announced Tuesday that it will open outposts of two brands—budget chain ibis hotel and family- and business-friendly Novotel—near Tehran’s international airport next month. There will be nearly 500 rooms between the two properties.
“The last Western brands go back to 1979,” explains Scott Antel, hospitality and leisure expert at international law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner. “If you go, you will likely stay at the old InterContinental, Sheraton or Hilton, whose signs came down in 1979. Little, if anything, has been done to the properties since.”
Accor’s entry was prompted by the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China in July. Iran hopes to increase visitor arrivals by 20 million in the next decade, which is almost quadruple its current arrivals, according to the Associated Press.
Despite the economic sanctions that the U.S. has imposed against Iran in various forms since 1979, it’s legal for American citizens to travel to Iran. But it’s not for the faint of heart. The U.S. still doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the country, and the State Department has a travel warning in place, which it updated in August, confirming that “some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States.”