Iran targets Russia, India as future tourism markets

February 25, 2020 - 21:11

TEHRAN - Iranian Tour Operators Association Director Ebrahim Pourfaraj has said that the country is considering Russia and India as its main tourism markets for the future.

“We have now become active in attracting Russian tourists and also considering India as [a main] tourism market for the country,” ILNA quoted Pourfaraj as saying on Monday.

The senior tour operator also referred to fears of coronavirus spread in the country, saying “Currently, some potential travelers to Iran are facing challenges [such as tour or flight cancelations].”

Talking on China as one of the most desired travel markets for Iran, he explained,” “China was [selected to becoming] one of Iran’s largest tourism target markets, and in that regard, heavy investments have been carried out in the arenas of advertising and introducing travel attractions to the those who are active in the field of tourism.”

We also held Even B2B meetings, however, coronavirus outbreak forced borders and air travels to come to a halt, he added.

“We are planning to hold B2B meetings with Russian and Indian travel agencies in the near future.”

Pourfaraj last year said a majority of potential Russian travelers are unaware of vast tourist attractions that exist in every corner of Iran, “The fact is that Iran’s political and economic relations with Russia are considered as good, but this has nothing to do with attracting tourists because it is directly connected with the Russian people. It is the Russian people who must choose Iran as their destination.”

Last November, Maya Lomidze, president of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), said “Iran, as an open-air museum of cultural heritage, is steadily attracting the attention of more Russians.”

“Russian tourists’ interest in traveling to Iran has increased,” Lomidze said.

Iranian tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan earlier this month announced the country will follow up on the issue of visa-free travel for mutual tourist groups with Russia at the upcoming [27th edition] Moscow International Travel & Tourism Exhibition (MITT), which will be held from March 17 to 19.

“The Russian fair is very important [for us] so that we should have a strong and influential presence in this exhibition… One of the major issues is to pursue and finalize visa cancellation for Iranian and Russian group tours,” Mounesan said.

In December, Mounesan announced that Tehran was considering to allow Russian tourists to visa-free entry into the country to boost tourism after it granted the same privilege for some other nationals including Chinese and Omani passport holders.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin inked a preliminary visa-free agreement in 2017 for certain tourist groups during their meeting in Moscow.

Based on the agreement tour groups of 5 to 50 people heading to [easternmost parts of] Russia from Iran or vice versa are granted a visa-free stay of up to 15 days.

Iran welcomed some 7.8 million foreign nationals last year, achieving 52.5 percent increase year on year.

The country 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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