Chinese envoy says wants to be ‘tourism ambassador’ for Iran

August 7, 2019

TEHRAN - Chinese Ambassador to Iran Chang Hua has said that he wants to be “a tourism ambassador” for Iran in order to help expand bilateral ties.

“I intend to work as an [Iran’s tourism] ambassador to China to develop traveling relations between the two countries,” Mehr quoted Chang as saying on Tuesday.

“Iran has unilaterally waived visas for Chinese citizens and we are also seeking ways to facilitate traveling of Iranians to China.”

Every country has its own consular policies and this [matter] should be done in coordination with the two sides, he noted.

Nearly 100,000 Iranian nationals visited China in 2018, he said.

He underlined that his mission is to try to deepen bilateral ties, particularly in the tourism sector.

“China is a large country with lots of complexity, so it is rarely possible to sign a visa waiver agreement with another country, but Iran is a friend of China. So we are trying to make it easier for Iranians to travel to China,” the envoy explained.

“In a meeting with Iranian Majlis speaker [Ali Larijani], I said that I will act as an ambassador to China and I will make efforts to develop tourism ties between the two countries.”

“Iran has numerous tourist areas. It has 22 cultural world heritage sites and two natural UNESCO-registered properties that have caused Iran to be ranked world’s tenth in terms of travel attractions. However, ordinary Chinese people are not familiar with Iran’s tourism potential,” he noted.

“The embassy of the People’s Republic of China is tasked to develop tourism relations between the two countries and introduce Iran’s tourism areas to the Chinese. I will meet with the head of the cultural heritage organization and will talk about it,” Chang said.

In late June, the Iranian government, in a unilateral measure, approved to waive the visa requirement for Chinese passport holders, a measure that took effect as of July 16.

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei announced in June 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.

In a recent move, the country has also extended visa-free validity for Chinese visitors from a previously announced 15 days to 21 days.

Nearly 7.8 million tourists traveled to Iran in the last fiscal year (ended March 20), showing a 52.5 percent growth compared with the preceding year.

Iran is home to hundreds of historical sites such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, mansions, as well as very changing natural sceneries, and above all, millions of its hospitable people.

AFM/MG

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