Iran is a perfect destination to travel to, Dutch filmmaker says

October 16, 2019

TEHRAN – “Whenever Iran is in the news, it is about something negative. That made me skeptical — can a country be as bad as the media depicts it? I wanted to investigate for myself if Iran is open to foreigners and if it is a safe place to visit, and also share my travel experiences with the world,” Reinier van Oorsouw, a Dutch photographer and filmmaker has said.

“I found people on the street to be warm, friendly and interested, rather than the “angry Western-hating” stereotype people might have in mind. We were invited into people’s houses on almost a daily basis. Overall, Iran was one of my best travel experiences,” he told the Fair Observer in an interview released on October 15.

The interview was conducted by Iranian journalist and writer Kourosh Ziabari earlier this year revolving around the filmmaker’s observations of the country.

In response to a question corresponding how the filmmaker was inspired to make documentary about his trip to Iran and the feedbacks he had so far received from international audience as well as Iranians, van Oorsouw said:

“Whenever Iran is in the news, it is about something negative. That made me skeptical — can a country be as bad as the media depicts it as? I wanted to investigate for myself if Iran is open to foreigners and if it is a safe place to visit, and also share my travel experiences with the world.”

“From Iran, the majority of feedback is positive. People are happy that a different light is being shone on their country, though some say I don’t show enough from real life. From international audiences, I had a mixed response: Some people are genuinely surprised, while others think I’ve been hired by the Iranian government,” he explained.

Other excerpts from the interview are given below:

You might have received warnings about traveling to Iran from friends and family members before boarding the plane. What were the reactions of your relatives and colleagues when you first raised the idea of traveling to Iran?

Yes! The responses from my surroundings were quite negative. But their cautions were all based on what they had seen in the media, rather than their own experiences. And that was exactly what I wanted to find out. Then again, I had obviously done some research by reading other travel experiences, which all seemed to say more positive things than the general media, hence my expectations were quite mild.

How strong are the stereotypes about Iran in your community and country? What are some of the most notable misconceptions that you think are not representative of the reality of Iran?

The general public thinks Iran is “unsafe,” a sandy country at war. But that’s just based on bias. The most notable misconception is that people think everyone is a religious fanatic. But I experienced that to be the other way around. Sure, there is a group of people who are very strict in their religion, but that happens in every country. The difference in Iran is that these people have a big say, compared to other countries.

I found people on the street to be warm, friendly and interested, rather than the “angry Western-hating” stereotype people might have in mind. We were invited into people’s houses on almost a daily basis. Overall, Iran was one of my best travel experiences.

What is the most remarkable characteristic of Iranian people in your view? Why do you think they’re so keen to paint a better picture of their country in the eyes of foreign observers?

Whenever I said to people in Iran that I was on holiday, the response I got was a very surprised one. It’s a bit like people feel inferior due to the image that’s portrayed about the country. Some asked me, “Weren’t you afraid?” If you feel you are misunderstood, you try to correct the misconception. I feel that is what a lot of people want to do. The “most remarkable characteristic,” in my opinion, is hospitability — people tend to take that very seriously.

What’s your advice to your fellow citizens who either plan to travel to Iran or have thought about doing so? Do you recommend Iran as a must-see tourist destination?

Iran is a perfect destination to travel to. Travel is comfortable. Traveling between cities is well-organized and car rentals are also easy. Visas for a lot of European citizens can be arranged upon arrival, flight connections are plenty and the food is great. Iran is full of culture and history, nature comes in many shapes and sizes, and people are all very friendly and warm. There are plenty of reasons to visit.

AFM/MG

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