Sunflower Tours blossoms into the outbound market to Iran

Dubai-based DMC, Sunflower Tours is planning to dabble in outbound tourism to Iran.

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By  Gemma Greenwood Published  October 5, 2006

Dubai-based DMC, Sunflower Tours is planning to dabble in outbound tourism to Iran. The company, which is operated by an Iranian family, and primarily caters to inbound tourism from Scandanavia, has joined forces with Iranian inbound tour operator, Iranian Ziggurat Travel & Tour Company, to create weekend break packages aimed specifically at the GCC’s ex-pat community. “We have come up with a few special packages that we now need to start marketing,” explained Cyrus Solumani, sales and marketing manager, Sunflower Tours. Taghi Aghaei, chairman and managing director of Ziggurat, added: “Iran is a place that can be visited several times a year for weekend breaks, because we have all the four seasons and it’s only a short flight away from the GCC.” He said ex-pats in particular would be interested in visiting Iran due to its broad range of attractions and activities, from ski and hiking holidays, to historical and cultural tours, and even beach holidays. GCC residents with an Iranian background would also be targeted with the short break deals, said Solumani. Sunflower Tours is also hoping to expand its core inbound markets – Norway, Finland and Sweden – which it has developed by attending trade fairs in these countries since the company’s inception in 1999. But there are currently several barriers to achieving growth from this and Sunflower’s other key inbound markets, Iran and Thailand, according to Solumani. High room rates and lack of hotel rooms have impacted both FIT and MICE business, he said. “And Dubai is the only place in the world where hotel room rates for groups are higher than for individuals. It’s because the hotels know they can fill the rooms and they don’t need group bookings,” he added. Solumani said Sunflower Tours’ ability to grow the Scandanavian source market was also limited by the absence of direct flights linking the region to the UAE. Emirates’ planned service between Dubai and the Danish capital, Copenhagen, a launch date for which has not been announced, would open up new opportunities, he added.

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