Iran tourism boom tied to nuclear talks, expert says   

December 5, 2021 - 18:22

TEHRAN – Iran tourism industry would greatly benefit from a possible agreement between the Islamic Republic and world powers to revive a 2015 deal named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Head of the Iranian Tour Operators has said. 

Iran suffered some 30 to 40 percent drop in the number of incoming passengers since the U.S. withdrew from the JCPOA and restored tough sanctions in 2018. However, a large number of tourists is expected to visit the country if the JCPOA is revived, ILNA quoted Ebrahim Pourfaraj as saying on Saturday. 

“It can be stated that the outbreak of coronavirus has not affected the country’s tourism industry as much as the JCPOA has,” he added.

Tourists from Arab countries, such as Iraq, are arriving in high numbers, while there are few tourists from Europe, he noted, adding having large numbers of visitors is not predictable until the second half of 2022.

“The tourism groups have shrunk and many trips are now in small groups, for example, family groups of four to five people or couples.”

Iraqi tourists travel to Iran for pilgrimage, most of whom wish to see the shrines of Imam Reza (AS) and Hazrat Masumeh (SA), just as Iranians want to visit the shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) in Karbala, the official explained. 

“Even religious travelers can greatly contribute to our economy. Iran can earn about one thousand dollars from each traveler as they shop souvenirs, stay in hotels, etc.,” he explained. 

Back in November, the official announced that the level of Iran’s health security and vaccination against coronavirus should be advertised internationally to gain further trust from the global tourism market.

The health and safety level in Iran is a concern for foreign tourists, he noted.

During the pandemic, Iran has maintained contact with global tourism markets and companies that worked with the country in the past, especially since virtual communication and meetings have been held, he mentioned.

“Following the resumption of the tourist visa, visitors from Russia and France have traveled to Iran and we are currently expecting a smaller number of tourists in Iran due to the current situation in the world,” he explained.

In January, the official announced that international tourism flow to Iran will return to normal in 2022.

Although there are requests for traveling to Iran in the current year (2021), most travel agencies and tour operators believe that the flow will go back to normal in the next year, he said.

Beginning mass vaccination against the coronavirus will provide better and safe conditions for international travels in 2022, he added. 

Last November, the World Tourism Organization announced that international tourist arrivals to Iran plunged 72% during the first eight months of 2020 when compared to 2019, highlighting the severe impact of COVID-19 as the main factor.
 
Some experts believe Iran is still somehow “unknown” for many potential travelers due to Western “media war”. 

The ancient land 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/AFM 
 

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