Geological and archeological sites are primary tourist spots in this mostly desert state. In 1997, there were 332,425 tourists arriving in Turkmenistan spending $74 million. The largest country of origin was Iran, with 171,071 visitors. Tourism has been designated a priority area of economic development. Hotel rooms numbered 2,616 with 6,571 beds and an occupancy rate of 24%.
In 2001 the US State Department estimated the cost of staying in Ashgabat at $152 per day.