The political turmoil and the lifting of sanctions in 2016 have put Iran back on the radar for tourism researchers. Following the signing of the nuclear deal, recent academic research has mostly focused on tourism development. Valuable contributions have been made, however no research assesses the stakeholder’s perception of Iran’s attractiveness and competitiveness. To fill this gap, this paper examines the attractiveness of the tourism destina-tion “Iran” and the competitiveness of its current tourism practices. The researcher analyzes 129 answers from a questionnaire distributed among tourists that have travelled to Iran and 18 interviews conducted among tourism experts. The qualitative approach enables the researcher to discover in-depth the complexity of tourism in Iran. The findings are interpreted within a competitiveness framework of eight factors. While there exist many different frameworks that help to analyze a destination’s competitiveness, the eight factors summarize most key issues. The eight points and the associated main terms guide the structure of the questionnaire and the interviews. The diversity of informational sources leads to clear results, which is why this research is the first one that can clearly academically name Iran’s most important pull factor and what the country is most appreciated for among inter-national travelers. It derives that culture, people and landscape are Iran’s most attractive factors whereas the importance of the people alternates from before to after the trip. In addition to the eight factors, the researcher deduces media representation and promotion as a crucial factor to be assessed when analyzing a destination’s competitiveness. Iran’s competitiveness cannot be unconditionally accepted due to insufficient organizational effort by the government that results into difficulties of internationally accessing the country and the containment of innovative projects. Consecutively, the analysis of Iran’s tourism destination image (TDI) has been approached with the use of sentiment analysis, an approach that is entirely new for this field and offers a lot of valuable opportunities for tourism researchers. With this approach a significant discrepancy between the TDI score before the trip to Iran and the TDI score after the trip have been detected. These findings underline the importance of the interconnectedness of media representation, competitiveness and TDI. The improvement of Iran’s TDI is therefore crucial to ensure Iran becomes a competitive tourism destination. The implications drawn from the findings are important for the Iranian government and tourism stakeholders alike. They conclude that if the or-ganization of the Iranian tourism sector improves, the competitiveness can be enhanced and ergo Iran as a tourism destination can be successfully introduced to the Western European target markets. With objective news coverage and additional promotional ideas, improving the TDI and consequently, increasing Iran’s global tourism share will be possible.