Iran waives visa for Chinese tourists

June 29, 2019

TEHRAN – The Iranian government waived the visa requirement for Chinese nationals willing to visit the country.

The Chinese tourists visiting Iran will no longer need to obtain visas, tourism organization chief Vali Teymouri said, Mehr news agency reported on Friday.

The decision is made to attract more foreign tourists to the country; however, it is a unilateral measure, i.e. Iranian tourists visiting China still need visas, according to the source.

Iran has taken some similar steps to increase its revenues from tourism under U.S. sanctions.

There is also a U.S. entry restriction on people with Iranian entrance stamps on their passports.

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei announced earlier this month that Iran has decided not to stamp the passports of foreign tourists to help them skip the U.S. travel ban.

"President Hassan Rouhani assigned the airport police not to stamp passports of foreign tourists. Taking into consideration the fact that America is practicing the economic terrorism plans, and people who travel to Iran may feel a bit afraid that they may be pressured by America," Rabiei told reporters in Tehran.

He added that this can invite more tourists to Iran.

With a 2500-year-old civilization, Iran is visited by millions of foreign tourists each year.

About 7.8 million tourists traveled to Iran in the last fiscal year (ended March 20, 2019), showing a 52.5% growth compared with the preceding year, Teymouri said back in April.

“A majority of foreign travelers visiting Iran last year were from neighboring countries as well as European and American countries,” he added.

According to Ali Asghar Mounesan, the head of Iran’s tourism organization, the lower cost of travel packages was the key factor that made Iran more attractive for foreigners.

In recent months, Iranian authorities have redoubled efforts to boost the tourism sector to increase foreign currency revenues and create jobs.

A sharp decline in value of national currency has made travelling to and shopping in Iran very cheap for foreigners.

"The development of tourism infrastructure, investments in the tourism sector, the issuance of electronic visa and visa waiver for target countries could be the main reasons for the growth in the number of foreign travelers," Mounesan said last November.

Iran has 157 four- and five-star hotels and by the end of President Hassan Rouhani’s second term in 2021, the figure will increase to 210. “When the infrastructures are complete, income from tourism will replace oil revenues,” Mounesan tweeted earlier this year.

“When this happens, we will have created jobs and insured ourselves against sanctions.”

According to the 2019 Travel Risk Map launched by global risk experts International SOS in collaboration with Control Risks, Iran is as safe as a majority of European countries when it comes to travel security.

The map shows the risk level in each country and territory based on the current threat posed to travelers by political violence (including terrorism, insurgency, politically motivated unrest and war), social unrest (including sectarian, communal and ethnic violence) and violent and petty crime. 

Factors such as the robustness of transport infrastructure, the state of industrial relations, effectiveness of security and emergency services and the country’s susceptibility to natural disasters are also taken into consideration, the Independent reported late last year.

A low travel security risk means violent crime rates are low; racial, sectarian or political violence or civil unrest is uncommon; security and emergency services are effective; infrastructure is sound; and industrial action and transport disruption are infrequent.

The map lists five categories of risk: insignificant, low, medium, high and extreme. 

Very few countries manage to make it into the “insignificant” bracket. In Europe, only Luxembourg, Denmark, Slovenia, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Greenland have been placed in this category.

SP/PA

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