In fact, the last World Cup in 2014 netted the host nation Brazil more than $7.2 billion in tax revenue alone for the month-long event, according to statistics on Fifa.com.
Qatar is located to the south of Iran in the Persian Gulf and its capital, Doha, is 280 km from Kish and 500 km from Qeshm–Iranian islands that are designated free trade zones.
“The World Cup is a massive opportunity that, if exploited, will have a great impact on both the economy and tourism of Qeshm,” Seyyed Mohammad Amin Jafari-Hosseini, chief tourism official at Qeshm Free Zone Organization, was quoted as saying by ISNA.
He stressed that plans must be devised now to ensure Iran takes benefits from the economic impact of the event by attracting football fans traveling to Qatar.
Earlier this month, the Persian daily Shahrvand reported that Kish officials had been approached by Qatari authorities to provide accommodation for some of the 32 participating teams.
Reportedly, the football federations of both countries are poised to sign two memoranda of understanding in this regard. Nasser Al-Khater, the assistant secretary-general for tournament affairs at the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (of the world cup), traveled to in Iran months ago to discuss the matter.
Kish, which due to its proximity to Qatar is climatically similar to the small Arab nation, is an ideal location for teams to set up camp and train for the big competition.
“Football teams always train in regions with similar weather conditions to the country in which they’ll be playing in,” Ali Kaffashian, a former head of the Iranian Football Federation and a vice president at the Asian Football Confederation.
“Dubai and Kish are both likely destinations, so we need to start expanding our infrastructures.”
Kish has modern training facilities used by Iran’s national football team but to host multiple teams, more amenities are needed.
“Plans to build training fields will begin soon and they won’t take more than six months to complete,” Hossein Jalali, director of sports affairs at Kish Free Zone Organization, told Shahrvand.
He said top teams are unlikely to camp in Kish, but facilities on the island will satisfy the needs of second-tier teams.
Kish and Qeshm are both popular holiday destinations in the Persian Gulf. Due to their free zone status, foreign travelers can stay for up to two weeks visa-free, except nationals of the following countries: the United States, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Somalia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They need to obtain Iranian visa before embarking on a trip to Iran.
There are no direct flights connecting Doha to Kish and Qeshm, but local airlines could launch charter flights for the duration of the tournament.
With just over five years to go, Iran has plenty of time to devise and execute plans that, if managed right, could give a massive boost to its economic and tourism sectors.