Dr. Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, Iran

Dr. Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh

An academician, an administrator, a manager and a hard-core tourism and management professional, Dr. Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh is currently the President of International Institute for Research and Development of Special Interest Tourism – SITI 1 of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A multi-faceted personality with deep interest in tourism, culture and related affairs, Dr. Malekzadeh earlier served as Tourism Deputy and President of the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) for five years and later as Iranian Vice President and Head of ICHTO for one year. Based on his experience, expertise and initiatives, he brought about radical changes in the tourism sector of Iran by introducing imaginative planning, development and marketing strategies which showed fast and highly visible results. All major players in the tourism sector – be it public sector, private sector or the media – gratefully acknowledged the substantive contribution made by Dr. Malekzadeh which made tourism one of the pillar industries in the country. Thus, he enjoys a unique status on the tourism scenario of Iran.

Through in depth research and pragmatic development approach, he was instrumental in identifying 1001 tourism routes in 30 different provinces; developing plans for low cost trips, special interest tourism routes, and tourism taxis: and, establishing tourist information centres, and Visa on Arrival and Electronic Visa Systems.

Some of the other major plans and programmes that were introduced and implemented under his leadership during his 4-year term (2005-2008) as Tourism Deputy and President of ICHTO include:

  • Plans for organization of private rental houses for tourists
  • Plan for organizing public residential places and motels
  • Plan for the establishment of specialized tourism committees such as Health Tourism, Sports Tourism, Rural Tourism and Scientific-Student Tourism
  • Formulation of regulations and their approval for domestic tourism
  • Establishment of Strategic Board of Tourism Accounts
  • Establishment of Permanent Headquarters for Facilitation of Trips which was renamed as Trip Services Coordination Headquarters Plan and idea for trips at any time, to any place, by anyone
  • Plan for attractions of single place and single time such as Mashhad Ardahal Carpet Washing, Chokheh Wrestling of North Khorasan in Esfarayen
  • Establishment of 13 information office for Iranian Tourism target markets in other countries
  • Designate tourism day, slogan and week in 30 provinces of the country
  • Connect tourism with other media specially the national media, operating specialized tourism magazines and newspapers for the first time in the country.

During his tenure, he organized several important conferences on issues affecting the tourism sector, the most prominent of these being the World Tour Operators Conference which was attended by participants from 46 countries. He is also credited with organizing festivals and tourism exhibitions at provincial, national and international level.


Malekzadeh Framework for Tourism (MFT)

As a thinker and an intellectual, and based on his experience and analyses, Dr. Malekzadeh authored a unique framework known as Malekzadeh Framework for Tourism (MFT) which adds a new dimension to the entire tourism process on a global basis. It provides a new definition altogether of tourism which relates to human, place and time as a structural basis for tourism knowledge and operation and management of the industry.

In the MFT, he has challenged the traditional and modern definitions of tourism and made efforts to bring out its shortcomings. Although he has not negated fundamental elements of tourism and its multi-dimensional nature, he has added another dimension which focuses on the spiritual nature of the sector. He has propagated that the major purpose of tourism knowledge and industry should be directed towards attaining mental peace, a sense of fulfillment and promoting spiritual capability of human beings who undertake tourism activities. In this context, the MFT concludes that existing mechanisms, models and structures of tourism have been unable to meet all the needs of tourists since they do not pay adequate attention to the spiritual aspects.

In the new definitions of the tourism that he has come out with, especially what he presented in 2015 as reference definitions of tourism knowledge and industry, tourism is a different type of the human relocation for recreation, entertainment, leisure, pilgrimage, visiting family and friends, business, etc. which generally occurs in limited and determined intervals. In other words, in a systematic view and based on the mapping model method, three fundamental elements i.e. human, place and time can be considered as the major structural basis that tourism knowledge and industry is based on, and of course, its functional nature encompasses different economic, social, political and cultural aspects.

It is worthy to mention that in the framework of MFT, redefinition of tourism concept has been done based on four basic axes:

  • nature of need
  • generative space of tourism
  • flexible and composite framework for meeting the needs of tourists
  • management framework for developing control structures.

In this theory, Dr. Malekzadeh, by using mathematical models and by considering the needs of human spirit, has presented a model for tourism management which, by changing mathematic variables, offer a unique solution not only for each country, geographical region, ethnicity or human group, but also for each individual tourist.

Dr. Malekzadeh has received several awards for his achievements including the first national tourism award in Sheikh Bahaei Festival, and the National Services Award.

With a Ph.D. in and a post-doctoral degree in Industrial Management, he has published books on Special Interest Tourism, Management Process: Quality Control of Different Special Interest Tours, and Participatory Management.

During his distinguished career, he has served on a wide variety of responsible positions including:

  • Head of Management Group in State Higher Education, Research and Planning

Planning Institute

  • Professor and President of State Higher Education, Research and Planning


  • Vice-president and Director of Postgraduate Studies in Government Institutions

Management, Tehran Free University

  • President of the Board of Trustees of Cultural Heritage Research Center
  • Member of the Board of trustees and International Deputy of Edalat


  • Director of Management and Development Scientific-research Periodical
  • In-charge Director of Planning and Budget Scientific-Research Periodical
  • Assistant Professor


It is pertinent to mention that his innovation for special interest tourism was registered as the first such invention in the global tourism industry.

For his excellent work in the development and promotion of tourism in Iran, he received letters of appreciation from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).