Tehran conference seeks to boost Iran-Azerbaijan tourism ties

February 16, 2020 - 19:5

TEHRAN – Iran and Azerbaijan held a professional conference in Tehran on Saturday, during which high-level tourism officials, hoteliers, airline directors, and chief tour operators explored avenues to broaden tourism ties between the two neighbors.

Representatives from Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Ministry, State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan as well as envoys and diplomats attended the conference held at Parsian Azadi International Hotel.

The event discussed issues related to visa requirements, joint exhibitions, accommodation, air travel, tourism infrastructure amongst others.

Addressing the audience, Tehran’s ambassador to Baku Javad Jahangirzadeh referred to the development of tourism relations between the two countries, saying, “During the past two years I have not heard any complaints from Iranian tourists during their visits to Azerbaijan and this shows the seriousness of this country in attracting Iranian tourists.”

The envoy thanked Azeri officials for their efforts to ease issuance of on-arrival visas at airports and visa-simplification rules in Nakhchivan. He also expressed hope that visa requirement to be simplified for overland journeys.

For his part, Fuad Nagiyev, chairman of Azerbaijan's State Tourism Agency, reminded that his country hosted over 250,000 travelers during the past year, naming Iran as its biggest source of tourism.

“Measures are being taken to facilitate traveling of Iranian tourists through removing visa requirements…. [for instance] Iranian citizens have been allowed to enter Nakhchivan without needing to obtain a visa as of December 1, 2019,” he added.

Iran was named the second most popular destination for Azerbaijani tourists in 2019, according to data collected from travel agencies.

Georgia, Iran, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine were the top five travel destinations for Azeri citizens in 2019, Azernews reported.

Azerbaijani citizens spent most money in Russia ($343.6 million), followed by Iran ($308.4 million), Georgia ($286.5 million), Turkey ($278.3 million) and the UAE ($38.1 million), according to the report.

The Islamic Republic abolished visa requirements for Azerbaijani nationals some three years ago, while Iranians still have to obtain visas to visit the country.

Some eight million foreign nationals have visited Iran since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2019) despite [U.S.] sanctions and a sharp decline in flights by some foreign airlines, tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan announced earlier this month.

The Islamic Republic expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots, including 22 ones that have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, the country aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.

AFM/MG

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