Iraqi, Afghan nationals top list of arrivals in Iran

January 18, 2022 - 19:1

TEHRAN – Citizens from Iraq and Afghanistan were the main tourists visiting Iran during a span of 70 days from October 23 to December 22, 2021, Mehr reported on Tuesday. 

Over the past couple of years, neighboring Iraq has been one of Iran’s most important markets for tourism and pilgrimage.

During the mentioned period, 226,000 people from Iraq, 103,000 from Afghanistan, 90,000 from Turkey, 22,000 from Azerbaijan, and 18,000 from Bahrain arrived in Iran.

Furthermore, the Islamic Republic hosted 11,000 travelers from Pakistan, 6,000 from Russia, 2,000 from Germany, and a total of 88,000 people from other countries.

In addition, from December 22, 2021, to January 1, 2022, some 23,000 people from Iraq, 10,000 from Afghanistan, 6,000 people from Turkey, 2,000 from Azerbaijan, 341 from Bahrain, 20,000 from Oman, 3,000 from Pakistan, 703 from Russia, 472 from Germany, and 6,000 from other countries visited Iran, the report said.

Earlier this month, the deputy tourism chief Ali-Asghar Shalbafiana announced that Iran had renewed arrangements to facilitate travels for Iraqi nationals. “For Iraqi tourists visiting Iran, a new system has been implemented to ensure their safety and comfort.”

 Under this new system, named "Border to Border", Iraqi tourists are provided with decent and standard tourism services from the moment they cross the land border or fly into the Iranian airport until the end of their journey.

The top priority of the tourism ministry is to make sure that Iraqi tourists who choose Iran for various purposes of treatment, pilgrimage, and tourism can benefit from official services, the official explained.

Services such as licensed and standard accommodation centers, travel agencies, specialized tour guides, reputable medical centers, and other facilities required for travel could be included, he added.

In December 2021, a group of Iraqi tour operators and tourism activists along with their Iranian fellows visited several Iranian provinces on familiarization tours. Moreover, several Iraqi travel insiders have requested Iran to waive visa requirements for Iraqi nationals who want to enter the Islamic Republic via land borders.

Last year the two neighbors agreed to abolish visa requirements for air travelers. The announcement came after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi met in Tehran, discussing various issues including visa waiver, a joint railway project, and increasing the level of trade.

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 have 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.

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.

AFM

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