Tuesday, 14 January, 2020

Iran now safe to visit for Britons, says UK Foreign Office

BRITONS are no longer being warned against all travel to Iran after the UK Foreign Office issued new guidelines.

The UK Foreign Office yesterday lifted an official warning against all but essential travel to the Middle Eastern country, citing ‘decreased hostility’ in the wake of a landmark nuclear deal, the UK media reported.

Almost all of Iran is now marked ‘green’ in the government’s foreign travel advice, though border areas with Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan remain ‘red’, a warning against all travel.

In a statement, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that British nationals should still carefully consider the risks of travelling to Iran, but that the situation had changed under the government of President Hassan Rouhani.

‘Our policy is to recommend against travel to an area when we judge that the risk is unacceptably high,’ Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement.

‘We consider that continues to be the case for specific areas of Iran, notably along Iran’s borders with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

‘But we believe that in other areas of Iran the risk to British nationals has changed, in part due to decreasing hostility under President Rouhani’s government.’

Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany reached a long-elusive agreement this month to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.

The British government has said it hopes to reopen its embassy in Tehran by the end of this year. It was closed in 2011 after being stormed by protesters.

The country, once the heart of the great Persian empire, has some stunning historic attractions, not to mention skiing and beach resorts.

There’s the UNESCO world heritage site of Persepolis, ancient capital of the Achaemid empire and the famous Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran’s top tourist city.

The latest travel advice means holidaymakers from the UK face a greater threat from terrorism in Spain than from visiting the rogue Middle Eastern state.

Travellers heading to popular resorts in the southern European country are being warned of a “high” threat level, while those visiting Iran are instead advised there is only a “general” threat.

Relaxing restrictions for British travellers to Iran is the latest sign of a thaw in relations with the West, following a landmark nuclear deal earlier this month.

With economic sanctions to be lifted following Iran’s landmark nuclear deal with the US, the Islamic Republic is surging in popularity as a holiday destination for adventurous Britons.

Jonny Bealby, founder and CEO of Wild Frontiers, which has been organising tours of the ancient sites of Iran for 10 years, told IBTimes UK  that the number of Britons booking trips to the country was already up 50 per cent from last year. He also said that in the last two years, there had been a 400 per cent increase in the number of people from the UK booking to visit the country.

“The Iranians are rightly proud of their history, culture and ancient civilisation, and they want to showcase it to the world in a way [they have been unable to] as it has been closed for so long,” said Bealby.


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