Iran bans arrivals from African, European countries over new Covid variant

December 24, 2021 - 18:3

TEHRAN – Due to the outbreak of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, Iranian authorities have prohibited the direct and indirect entry of passengers from eight African countries and four European ones for 15 days, ISNA reported on Thursday. 

To control and slow down the spread of the new variant of the coronavirus, tourists from Botswana, Swatini, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Namibia as well as England, France, Norway, and Denmark are banned from entering the country, the report added. 

However, activists for Iranian tourism urged the three ministries of interior, tourism, and foreign affairs to facilitate travel to Iran for foreign tourists from the mentioned countries who have obtained tourist visas and are en route to Iran or about to visit it.

Moreover, direct and indirect entry of the nationals of other countries is only allowed for those with business, student, work, and medical visas who present valid vaccination cards and follow protocols approved by the Ministry of Health.

A health certificate with a negative coronavirus PCR test result, issued at most 72 hours before arrival, is also required for travelers.

The new regulations and restrictions on travel to Iran have been put into place just two months after the visas were issued for foreign visitors after almost 19 months of suspension.

Last month, Iranian officials announced that in addition to providing proof of vaccination or a negative PCR, inbound passengers must have coronavirus insurance, which differs from the routine insurance coverage purchased by all tourists before the coronavirus era.

Iranian Tour Operators Director Ebrahim Pourfaraj said earlier in November that the restoration of tourism flow to the country is very important for Iranian tour operators and travel insiders. “At the moment, we are not thinking about revenues, but we are looking for the beginning of the tourist flow to the country and renew our links [with international fellows],” Pourfaraj said.

His comments came after months of steep recession triggered by massive coronavirus restrictions which led many travel insiders, hoteliers, and tour operators towards bankruptcy, unemployment, debts, and the prospects of not being competitive on the international level.

As mentioned by Pourfaraj, Iran has made its best to maintain contact with global tourism markets and companies that worked with Iran in the past, especially since virtual communication and meetings have thrived.

“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.

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.

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.


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