Turkish PM: Iran a ‘hidden treasure’
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu calls Iran a “hidden treasure,” saying Tehran’s release from the “shackles of sanctions” has ushered in a “golden age” in relations between the two neighbors.
Davutoglu, on the second day of a visit to Iran at the head of a 160-strong delegation, made the remarks during a meeting of Iranian and Turkish traders and business owners in Tehran.
“The geography and economic structures of Iran and Turkey are like the pieces of a puzzle which complete each other,” the IRNA news agency quoted the Turkish premier as saying.
“Iran and Turkey are friends and neighbors; if they cooperate with each other, they can turn to the strongest regional countries,” he added.
“Both our countries must think about a win-win outcome in order to compete with the world economy,” Davutoglu said.
Bilateral trade stood at $22 billion in 2014 before declining to $9 billion as a result of sanctions on Iran. Davutoglu said the two countries can raise this volume to $30 billion.
“If we use existing capacities and bases, we can increase the volume of exchanges to more than $50 billions,” he said.
Davutoglu underlined the need for the removal of red tape in trade between the two countries as he urged joint investments in the two countries.
He asked Turkish entrepreneurs to make tourism investment in the Iranian cities of Tabriz, Shiraz and Isfahan.
Every year, 1.7 million Iranian tourists travel to Turkey. Davutoglu said Turkey must encourage its citizens to travel to Iran for tourism.
Iran is making a fresh pitch for tourists, with the country being billed as the most lucrative hospitality development market.
Hotel groups from several countries are pushing to boost their portfolios in Iran in anticipation of a big bonanza.
On Wednesday, the Spanish operator Melia Hotels International said it plans to open a five-star property on the Caspian Sea as early as next year.
In October, French operator Accor opened a Novotel and an Ibis near Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. Dubai-based Jumeirah and Abu Dhabi-based Rotana also plan to open hotels in the country.
According to a forecast by Euromonitor International, Tehran and the holy city of Mashhad will probably draw most of the tourism investment.
The ancient cities of Isfahan, Shiraz and Tabriz are also considered attractive tourist destinations, it said.
Iran has hammered out an investment package worth $25 billion to revitalize its tourism which has been under the shadow of its sprawling petroleum industry.
Iranian officials say the country plans to attract 20 million foreign tourists in order to generate up to 30 billion of revenues a year by 2025.