Tuesday, 14 January, 2020

Foreign tourists visiting Iran up 70%

Deputy Head of the Community of Iranian Tour Leaders Mohammad-Ali Ashrafi Vaqefi said on Wednesday that the number of foreign tourists visiting Iran since the beginning of the current Iranian year (March 21) shows 70 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

With President Hassan Rouhani coming to office in August 2013 and his reaching out to the world, Iran is today witnessing an increase in the number of tourists willing to visit the country, Ashrafi Vaqefi said.

He said that the lifting of sanctions on Iran will help the country boost its tourism industry, an opportunity that has to be seized by the Iranian officials.

In early November, Iran started implementing a cabinet’s bill that allows tourists to obtain visas with 30 days validity upon their arrival in the country’s international airports.

The country has also revoked visa requirements for nationals of 7 countries as part of its plans to boost tourism industry in the country. The citizens of Turkey, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bolivia, Egypt and Syria can travel to Iran and stay in the country without visa from 15 to 90 days under the new visa requirement regulations.

According to the WTM Global Trends Report 2015 by Euromonitor International, a leading research firm, diplomatic relations between the US and Iran have thawed and the recent lifting of sanctions has sparked a scramble to open the country up to visitors.

The country looks set to exploit its ancient Persian history, 19 World Heritage Sites, and more unlikely tourism attractions such as 19 ski resorts, and opportunities for mountain climbing and bird-watching, the report said.

Iran’s vice president Masoud Soltanifar told the Associated Press on October that his country is preparing for a “tsunami” of foreign tourists as Iran and world powers are set to begin implementing a landmark nuclear deal that will lift sanctions in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.

Even before sanctions are lifted, the number of foreigners visiting Iran has grown 12 percent in each of the past two years. In 2014, Iran hosted over 5 million tourists, bringing in some $7.5 billion in revenue.

About half were Shiite Muslims, the same religious denomination as most Iranians, and the other half were tourists from Europe, North America and east Asia.
Iran aims to host 20 million tourists a year by 2025, with expectations of growing the tourist industry
to $30 billion.

France and the United Kingdom have also relaxed travel advice for their citizens following the historic July nuclear deal. The U.K. reopened its embassy in Tehran in August after a four-year closure.

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