Iran reopens borders to foreign tourists

October 24, 2021 - 17:28

TEHRAN –The Islamic Republic of Iran reopened its borders to foreign tourists as of October 23, the deputy tourism minister has announced.

As of last night, the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control agreed to reopen the country’s borders to foreign tourists, based on the new conditions prevailing in the country after crossing the fifth wave of the pandemic, increasing vaccinations, and at the request of the tourism ministry, Ali-Asghar Shalbafian said on Sunday.

As a condition for entry into the country, the headquarters has instructed all tourists and the host communities to follow all health protocols, the official added.

As the post-coronavirus era emerges, extensive measures have been taken to revive the tourism industry, the official added.

He also expressed hope that issuing tourist visas would result in an upsurge in tourism.

Tourist visas

Back in September, Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Ezzatollah Zarghami announced that by the order of President Ebrahim Raisi the issuance of tourist visas and the flow of foreign tourists from land and air borders will be resumed from the month of Aban (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) following 19 months of suspension.

Months of steep recession has taken its toll. Many travel insiders, hoteliers, and tour operators have faced big dilemmas such as bankruptcy, unemployment, debts, and the prospects of not being competitive on the international level.

They now have good grounds of hope as Zarghami announced on September 19 that the country plans to lift visa restrictions to help the severely hit tourism industry.

Meanwhile, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has continued to fall in the Islamic Republic, curbing a stubborn fifth wave of the pandemic, which has seen daily mortalities of up to 700 in recent weeks. As of September 22, the figure dropped to below 300 as the government has devoted a great deal of effort to vaccinate citizens against the nasty virus.

Some experts believe Iran is still somehow “unknown” for many potential travelers due to Western “media war”. Several estimates have been released so far on the extent of the tourism-related losses incurred by the pandemic. Only months into the outbreak, Zarghami’s predecessor, Ali-Asghar Mounesan, lamented that the number of foreign travelers to Iran was drastically plunged due to the pandemic.

“Tourism of the country was growing before the corona [outbreak], its revenues reached $11.7 billion in 2019, which accounted for 2.8% of GDP, nearing the average share of tourism in the world GDP, which was 3.2 percent,” Mounesan said. He added 8.7 million foreign nationals visited Iran during the [Iranian] year (1398), adding that Iran was ranked as the second fastest-growing country in tourism based on data compiled by the World Tourism Organization.

Iran is potentially a booming destination for travelers seeking cultural attractions, breathtaking sceneries, and numerous UNESCO-registered sites. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, Iran aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.

ABU/MG

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