Iranian tour operators in talks to find new markets in Russia

October 11, 2020 - 21:45

TEHRAN – Head of the Iranian Tour Operators Association Ebrahim Pourfaraj on Sunday said that new rounds of negotiations have been commenced between Iranian tour operators, travel marketers, and their Russian counterparts.

“We’ve been commenced talks with some Russian travel agents to put Iranian destinations on their itineraries…. And the Iranian Tour Operators Association has also entered negotiations with Russian unions for outbound tours with the aim of attracting more travelers from Russia,” CHTN quoted Pourfaraj as saying.

He also referred to a visa waiver program, which is being finalized for certain travel groups of the two countries, adding about 100 private persons from the field of handicrafts, tour operators, trade unions, etc. had announced their readiness to accompany the Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Ali-Asghar Mounesan during his upcoming visit to Moscow to ink the agreement.

“But in the current situation, limited numbers of the heads of [travel] organizations will be accompanying the minister for negotiations and reviewing the latest developments…. Or we might postpone it to a better time.”

“In previous years, the number of Iranians who visited Russia was [much] higher than those who traveled to Iran from Russia and we are trying to reverse this trend with this positive development and the abolition of visas for travel groups.”

Pourfaraj had previously said that 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,” he explained.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, the minister underlined that for visa waiver with Russia, Iran preferred its implication to be paused by delay to have time to conduct special assessments on kinds of potential Russian travelers, its demographic characteristics amongst others.

The main reason behind this is that we intend to improve the travel balance between Tehran and Moscow, he underlined. “As for the cancellation of visas for certain travel groups from Iran and Russia, this issue has been raised for more than two years. But we preferred to postpone that visa waiver program because to have time to meet the needs of typical Russian travelers who are interested in culture, nature, and sightseeing travels,” Mounesan explained.

“Over the past two years, with learning from our previous experience of visa waivers for Oman and China, we have monitored the Russian market, and God willing, this visa cancellation will happen soon and we hope to have a good share of [inbound] travelers from Russia.”

“By monitoring the Russian tourism market, we came to the conclusion that the share of tourists interested in cultural and historical sites as well as the number of Muslims living in Russia, is significant.”

In 2017, President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin inked a visa-free agreement for tourist groups. The agreement, however, seems to be implemented in the near future as a joint technical committee on Wednesday reached an initial agreement in this regard.

Iran has set a target to attract 20 million foreign tourists annually by 2025.


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