French hotel group aims to operate in Iran 'for 20 years'
French hospitality giant AccorHotels, the first Western hotel group to enter the Iranian market after a landmark nuclear deal, said Tuesday it hoped to be in the country "for the next 20 years".
In an interview with AFP, chief executive Sebastien Bazin said his firm was looking forward to a thawing of business ties between Iran and the West following years of economic sanctions.
"This country deserves to have international brands in order to develop local and international tourism," Bazin said ahead of signing contracts to open two hotels -- a Novotel and an Ibis -- at Tehran's international airport.
The hotels are scheduled to open on October 15, with a total of nearly 500 rooms.
Aimed at both international and Iranian business travellers, they will be equipped with meeting rooms, conference spaces and spas, fitness suites and swimming pools.
Bazin's visit to Tehran comes two months after world powers struck a historic agreement on Iran's controversial nuclear programme, which envisages economic sanctions on the Islamic republic being lifted.
"My role is not to interpret what happens at a government level... but we are here (in Iran) for the next 20 years," he said.
Bazin said his group had "many projects which have been on paper for a while" and called Iran "a fabulous country".
Iran's vice president for tourism and cultural heritage, Masoud Soltanifar, said during the signing ceremony that Iran hoped to attract "20 million tourists by 2025".
AccorHotels is the world's sixth-largest hotel group.
© 2015 AFP