Iran sets sights on drawing 2 million Chinese tourists per annum 

July 1, 2019

TEHRAN – Iran’s tourism organization has set sights on attracting two million Chinese nationals per annum after the country approved to waive the visa requirement for Chinese travelers.

“In 2018, some 150 million Chinese nationals visited various countries across the globe, and in regards to Iran embracing vast tourism attractions and capacities, we are setting a goal to welcome two million Chinese tourists per annum,” tourism chief Ali-Asghar Mounesan said on Sunday, IRNA reported.

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.

Fortunately, the Iranian government has approved to waive the visa requirement for Chinese nationals, which could be an effective step to increase Chinese arrivals in Iran, he said.

Mounesan, who doubles as vice president, said that some 52,000 Chinese people visited the Islamic Republic over the past Iranian calendar year (ended in March 2019).

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Iran fell short of expectations. Some experts deem that insignificant numbers of Chinese restaurants, Chinese-language guides or even inappropriate lodging facilities as the main reasons behind the low arrivals.

Some say that part of this failure comes from inside Iran, because Chinese restaurants are scanty across the country while the cuisine is of high importance for majority of the Chinese people.

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.

The 2019 Travel Risk Map, which shows the risk level around the world, puts Iran among countries with “insignificant risk”, a category where the UK, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, and Finland are placed in. 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.

Iran aims to attract 20 million foreign tourists annually by 2025.

AFM/MG

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