by Cherayl Anne Sturken | September 16, 2015
Paris-based AccorHotels might be the first international Western hotel chain to enter Iran. The company said it has signed a management agreement with owner Aria Ziggurat Tourism Development to manage two of its inaugural properties in Tehran: The 296-room Novotel Ikia and the 196-room Ibis Ikia. Both hotels, which are scheduled to open later this year, will be connected to the main terminal at Imam Khomeini International Airport.

According to Tehran's Tasnin News Agency, Iran is on track to attract 20 million tourists in another five years, and the country, which is woefully short of hotel rooms, is looking to have 300 new hotels built in the next 10 years. "We are very excited about signing this partnership," said Sebastien Bazin, AccorHotel's chairman and CEO at a press conference in Tehran announcing the signing. "We are certain that Novotel and Ibis will fit perfectly into the growth momentum that Iran's hospitality sector is enjoying. Our brands are looking at huge growth potential in this country. 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."

AccorHotels, which has a portfolio of 21 brands, including Pullman and Sofitel, currently manages 81 hotels (17,300 rooms) in the Middle East. Another 352 hotels are in the development pipeline for the Middle East and Africa.