Tehran, Beijing stress expansion of tourism ties

August 9, 2019

TEHRAN – Iran tourism chief Ali-Asghar Mounesan on Wednesday met with Chinese Ambassador to Tehran Chang Hua, stressing the need for expansion of cooperation to exchange more travelers.

“Thank you for your efforts to strengthen tourism relations between Iran and China,” CHTN quoted the envoy as saying.

“China is ready to cooperate with Iran in tourism arena. In meetings with Iranian president and foreign minister, I said that China will [facilitate] sending its people to Iran.

Mounesan for his part invited the ambassador to embark on a tour across the Islamic Republic.

“We are ready to help you visit all the [tourist] destinations across Iran, though it is a vast country and has many historical sites,” Mounesan said.

“Iran is house to some one million historic [monuments] and sites, of which 34,000 are registered on national cultural heritage list. There are also 24 UNESCO-registered ones that demonstrate history and civilization of the country.”

Chang appreciated Iran’s move for implementing visa-free travels for Chinese passport holders.

 “I thank Iran for waiving visas for Chinese travelers. I believe this will help expand tourism in both countries. I always refer to Iran as a safe country for my family and friends. In my opinion, Iran is a safe country and it is indeed the safest country in the Middle East,” he noted.

“In a meeting with Iranian Majlis speaker Ali Larijani, I said that I am ready to introduce Iran to Chinese travelers, like an ambassador to China, and I will start that from my family.” 

Mounesan who also doubles as vice president proposed closer cooperation to educate Iranian travel guides, saying “I ask China’s Embassy to help running Chinese courses for our tour guides, which in addition to language, explain about Chinese food and codes of behavior.”

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. It has also extended visa-free validity for the Chinese from a previously announced 15 days to 21 days.

Over the past years, the number of Chinese visiting Iran has fallen short of expectations. Some experts say insignificant Chinese restaurants and Chinese-language guides or even inappropriate lodging facilities are main reasons behind the low arrivals.

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. It 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.

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.

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

AFM/MG

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