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 Iran will grant a new tax-exemption incentive to the newly-constructed hotels and tourism centers in the country since the beginning of the next Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2016), said Seyed Kamel Taqavinejad, the head of Iranian Tax Administration.

 

According to Taqavinejad the new hotels and tourism centers will receive income tax exemption for a course of five years, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) reported.

 

The incentive will be granted for a duration of ten years to those hotels and tourism centers which will be built in the less developed regions, the official noted.

 

 

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Indications are growing that Iran will soon witness a surge in visits by foreign tourists (Bloomberg). 

Attractions of Iran’s tourism industry are drawing a stronger attention now that the country has opened its doors in light of the removal of economic sanctions last month.

Iran is making a fresh pitch for tourists with the recent lifting of economic sanctions providing an opportunity to cash in, AFP wrote in a report on Thursday.

Tourists, and the healthy revenues they could generate, are among the huge economic changes stemming from the nuclear deal.

Ski resorts, UNESCO-listed world heritage sites and deserts combine with cities steeped in Middle Eastern grandeur and tradition, adds the report.


A tourism push was launched after President Hassan Rouhani came to power in 2013.

Iranian officials have already said that about five million foreign travelers visited Iran in 2014, and that the country aims to attract 20 million tourists, spending $30 billion, by 2025.

Entry procedures have been simplified, meaning visitors from only 11 countries are not eligible for a visa on arrival.

The United States, Britain, Canada and France top the exclusion list but some people will not be put off by the restrictions.

The New York Times earlier this week reported that there has been a surge in bookings for Iran trips by American tourists.

Tour operators say the demand has been so acute that they are racing to add new departures and selling them in record time, it reported.

- Skiing and ancient cities -

Iran hosts some of the world’s oldest cultural monuments, including 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and its varied terrain ranges from desert locales to ski resorts.

A tourism adventure to Iran could all start right in capital Tehran and with skiing if you are visiting the country during winters. The city’s Tochal ski resort is one of several close to the capital.

Skiers sit on a ski lift over the Darbandsar ski resort, 60 kms northeast of Tehran in February 2015. (AFP)
Darbandsar ski resort, northeast of Tehran. (AFP)
Most tourists will then make trips to Isfahan, Shiraz and Yazd, cities which are internationally known to be much more beautiful and relaxed than Tehran, AFP’s report added.

Among the popular sites in Isfahan is Imam Square, second in size only to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, but with water fountains and impressive architecture the Iranian site is much more attractive.

For Rouhani, tourism offers a way to offset falling oil prices that have slashed government income. It comes as tourists shun many parts of the Middle East because of war and a recent wave of terrorist attacks in countries including Egypt and Tunisia, the report added.

Chinese tourists visiting the
Chinese tourists visiting the "Gate of All Nations" at Persepolis near Shiraz. (AFP)
International credit and debit cards still do not work in Iran, but arriving with foreign currency and converting it into a large bundle of local rial notes does not seem a handicap.

There have been 4.16 million visitors in the first nine months of the Iranian year, which started in March 2015, up five percent from a year earlier, according to the tourism ministry.

Two thirds of them come from neighboring countries, such as Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Afghanistan or Pakistan, and are predominantly religious pilgrims visiting the holy Shia cities of Mashhad, northeast of Tehran, and Qom, south of the capital.

French or English speaking guides are booked up to the end of 2017 and the four or five star hotels in Isfahan, Shiraz and Yazd are sold out months in advance, AFP added.

 

 

 

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An Interview with Chris Flatt, Executive Vice President-Hotel Sales & Marketing, Wynn Las Vegas

EDITORS’ NOTE

Chris Flatt has held her current post since 2002. Prior to this, she was Vice President of Sales for Bellagio from 1997.

COMPANY BRIEF

Wynn and Encore Las Vegas (wynnlasvegas.com)are two luxury hotel and casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. The iconic travel destinations are operated by international resort developer Wynn Resorts, recipient of more Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Awards than any other independent hotel company in the world. Wynn Las Vegas opened on April 28, 2005 and has been recognized as the best resort in Nevada on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” for five consecutive years. The resort features 2,714 lavish guest rooms and suites, more than 111,000 square feet of state-of-the-art casino space, 14 casual and fine dining restaurants, a spa and salon, and an on-site Ferrari and Maserati dealership and 18-hole golf course. Wynn Las Vegas is also home to “Le Rêve – The Dream,” an award-winning theatrical experience blending aerial acrobatics, provocative choreography, powerful performances, and elaborate effects. Encore, an expansion of Wynn Las Vegas, opened on December 22, 2008. Featuring an additional 2,034 all-suite accommodations, a 72,000-square-foot casino, five restaurants, and a spa and salon, Encore is located adjacent to Wynn Las Vegas. Combined, the two resorts boast four distinct nightlife and day club experiences, approximately 283,000 square feet of meeting space, and 98,000 square feet of retail space.

What is it that makes this property so unique?

Mr. Wynn, the brand itself, and our having the opportunity to build the types of buildings we have provides an experience for our guests that is beyond what anyone else has been able to do.

I have been with Mr. Wynn for 28 years. I had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and to build and open properties along the way. A lot of time and effort goes into studying each property from the guest perspective. This attention to detail is what sets us apart.

Wynn and Encore Las Vegas

Is it tough to differentiate in the Las Vegas market and is it essential to have a strong brand name?

Having the Wynn name on the building is a key differentiator. We built many of the properties that we compete against now. Las Vegas has continued to reinvent itself and as soon as we’ve created something new, we immediately begin working to create the next best thing.

Las Vegas is a unique market and we have the opportunity to do things here that can’t be done elsewhere. We can spend the kind of money on these properties that, in most places, would not make sense.

How broad is the customer base for a property like Wynn?

It’s definitely top-tier, but when you have a 4,700-room hotel, you also have to attract a broad group. We have a mix of business: our convention business is a big part of what we do, but we also attract a lot of leisure travelers and those who come to enjoy our casino. We also attract direct business through our call center and website.

So we have a variety of customers, but all are looking for a luxury experience. Customers have high expectations of us.

How important is your corporate business to the property’s success?

It is our foundation – we book corporate business years out in many cases. At Wynn, our natural customers tend to be more corporate. We are focused on making sure that those customers want to continue to be with us. Our repeat business in the convention segment is very high.

What size convention do you cater to?

We handle everything, from a small 25-person meeting to a large 3,000-person meeting, and we pay equal attention to each of those. We have an advantage between Wynn and Encore in that the two hotels connect, allowing us to connect the meeting space, which is great for larger groups. We also have different levels of meeting room products that we can provide our attendees from a standard room up to the board or CEO level.

From product to service, the people that work here take pride in their jobs and in making sure every guest has a perfect experience.

How closely do you coordinate the business of the two properties?

When it comes to how we connect our two properties, we operate as one. The employees here are attuned to everything that goes on in our building, from Mr. Wynn to our President to the line-level employees that are caring for our guests.

When you deal with these large buildings, it takes a lot of effort and coordination to make things happen flawlessly.

How challenging is it to find the talent you need with all the competition in Las Vegas?

We have a lot of experienced people who have been in the business for years. We are focused on promoting from within, so we grow our teams organically. This has been a benefit to us because, when we do bring people up from within, they already understand our culture.

It’s important to find people who truly care about what our customers receive in terms of our service and commitment. People who, when our customers meet them, can instantly establish a feeling of trust.

As our guests share what they’re looking to achieve during their visit, we will be right alongside them, making sure that happens. We want to understand what their goals are and we want to accomplish those goals.

We partner with our customers and make sure that we deliver on everything they’re looking for. Finding people who take personal pride in accomplishing this is really important.

Is diversity a key part of the culture?

As a company, we have always been very focused on diversity. We have quite a few women on the executive team. There is generally a lot of opportunity for women and minorities in this industry.

Are you still amazed to see what Las Vegas has become?

I walk into this building every morning and I’m always amazed by all that is going on – it makes me very proud every time I look around and see, touch, and feel everything that our customers have the opportunity to enjoy here; all the things we offer at Wynn leads to amazing experiences.

There is so much to do in Las Vegas that you can’t see, do, or experience in any other city, and it’s only growing. We have weathered the recession and business is back. We’re all seemingly doing well and, based on the new projects coming into the city, it’s going to be great for Las Vegas.

In the early days, could you have imagined you would have spent your career here?

Once I began to work with Mr. Wynn, and to understand our company and culture, I realized I could never go anywhere else and, as a result, I have had the chance to be a part of some of the amazing things we have done.•

 

 

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