Tehran, Moscow agree on visa-free travel for tourist groups
TEHRAN – Iran and Russia have inked a visa-free agreement for tourist groups, as the two countries are taking steps towards broadening bilateral tourism ties.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed the agreement in Moscow on March 28. They also ordered relevant authorities to work to ease the visa regime for all Iranian and Russian nationals willing to visit the two countries.
The two presidents also issued a joint statement, outlining a roadmap for the future status of their bilateral relations and cooperation on the regional and international stage, Press TV reported.
Dubbed “Moving forward to Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation”, the statement says the countries signed memoranda of understanding concerning such areas as nuclear energy, oil exploration and production, electricity, rail transport and urban development.
“Based on the agreement tour groups of 5 to 50 people heading to Russia from Iran or vice versa will be granted a visa-free stay of up to 15 days,” Sputnik reported.
Maya Lomidze, executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, told Sputnik that the visa agreement may significantly surge the tourist flows between the two countries, just like it happened when a similar deal was signed between Russia and China. The flow of Iranian tourists to Russia increased by 50-70 percent following the operation of direct flights that connects Iran to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Sochi, she said.
During the fifth session of the commission on consular cooperation between Russia and Iran last November the two countries came to an agreement to waive visas for tourist groups of 5 to 50 people for up to 15 days.
Last December, Tehran’s ambassador to Moscow said Iran-Russia interactions in the tourism sector has led to a sharp rise in the number of visits to the two countries over the past two years.
PHOTO: Rouhani and Putin shake hand during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 28, 2017.