Iran seeks balanced tourism ties with Russia

June 20, 2017

TEHRAN – Iran’s tourism chief on Saturday urged the need to achieve a balance between the inbound and outbound tourist flows that currently exist between the country and Russia.

“We should conduct an [in-depth] analysis and take practical measures in line with raising the number of Russian travelers to the country,” Zahra Ahmadipour said in an address to a tourism meeting in Tehran. 

Roughly 67,000 Iranians visited Russia in 2016, a solid growth of 72 percent compared to a year earlier, Russia Beyond the Headlines reported on April 5.

“Our failure to attract tourists from countries that we have a good political relationship with them is something that should be seriously followed through investigation,” Ahmadipour added.

Launching [travel] campaigns, boosting participation in exhibitions, training courses for tourist guides fluent in Russian, translation and dissemination of attractions in Iran, and cutting the travel costs are amongst the measures that can lead to obtain an appropriate share of the Russian tourism market, the official explained.

Ahmadipour who presides over the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization also defined the role of role of the private sector as very important in this regard, saying “Such a goal would not be realized without active participation of the private sector.”

Elsewhere in her remarks, Ahmadipour pointed to the 2018 FIFA World Cup as an opportunity to promote tourism in the country. Iran’s national team has been qualified for the event that is scheduled to be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15, 2018.

Russians’ low familiarity with Iran

During the meeting, CHTHO Deputy Director Morteza Rahmani-Movahhed stressed the need for greater public awareness of Russian travel associates on Iran’s tourism potentials, adding that the organization has invited a delegation of Russian tour guides to visit Iran during October in a bid to introduce the country’s tourism potentials.

He also talked on an already-achieved visa simplification program that eases bureaucracy for certain groups of travelers, describing a comprehensive visa waiver program as time-consuming.

Ebrahim Pourfaraj, the chief executive of Iranian Tour Operators Association, for his part, reminded attendees of the fact that Iran’s tourist destinations are not well-known to the Russian nationals.

“Russians’ familiarity with Iran [sites] is very low,” Pourfaraj said, as he proposed holding exhibitions and photo tours amongst several solutions to deal with the issue.  

On March 28, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin inked a visa-free agreement for tourist groups in Moscow.

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.

Russians expect around 100,000 Iranians to visit the country this year while most travelers (about 95 percent) are usually interested in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

PHOTO: Iran’s tourism chief Zahra Ahmadipour (C) addresses a travel meeting on Russia in Tehran on June 17, 2017.

AFM/MG

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