TEHRAN – Visits to Iran by foreign tourists rose 215 percent in spring 2014 compared to spring 2013, the deputy director of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization said on Monday.
“Over 23,600 foreign tourists visited Iran in the three-month period, compared with 7,500 last year,” CHTHO Deputy Director Morteza Rahmani-Movahed added.
Most of the foreign tourists who visited Iran in spring 2014, which corresponds to the first quarter of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21-June 21), came from European countries, Australia, South Korea, Japan, and China, the Mehr News Agency quoted Rahmani-Movahed as saying.
On May 21, CHTHO Director Masoud Soltanifar said a “tsunami of foreign tourists” is currently hitting the country.
When taking into account Shia religious tourists and visitors from neighboring countries, more than four million foreigners came to Iran in Iranian calendar year 1392 (March 2013-March 2014), with each generating about $1,200 of estimated revenue, he said.
Foreign visitors to Iran are the most visible effect of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s drive to mend relations with the West, an influx that generated as much as $5 billion for the country’s sanction-hit economy over the past year. For the first time since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, international hotel chains are now plotting a return, while European airlines are adding or restoring links with Tehran.
Now, tour operators are hoping the thawing of political relations with the West will give travelers the reassurance they need to return.
The Rouhani administration has announced plans to ease visa requirements to increase the number of visitors and boost annual income from tourism from $5 billion today to $10 billion.
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