Tehran, Moscow eager to diversify direct flights, envoy says

May 7, 2023 - 18:30

TEHRAN – There is a strong desire between Iran and Russia to develop direct flights between different cities of their respective countries, the Iranian ambassador to Russia has said.

Isfahan, Shiraz, and some southern islands are among the Iranian tourist destinations that Russians want to establish direct flights to, IRNA quoted Kazem Jalali as saying on Saturday. 

Direct flights are currently only available between the capitals of the two countries, operated by Iran’s Mahan Airlines, and Russia’s Aeroflot and Nordwind Airlines, the envoy added. 

Besides the capital cities of the two countries, it seems to be the right time to expand the flights to other tourist cities, he noted. 

With the current international conditions, Iran should make good use of this opportunity to attract Russian tourists and accelerate this trend, he mentioned.

After the war in Ukraine, several million Russian tourists were unable to travel to different countries, so Iran could be a good option for them, he explained. 

The country, however, needs to provide suitable facilities and tourism infrastructure, he stated. 

Earlier this year, Mehr reported that Russian tourists were increasingly choosing Iran as a vacation destination these days. “There has been a surge of Russian tourists in Iran as a result of international sanctions against Russia.” This has prompted Russian tourists to visit Asia and the Middle East instead, especially Iran. This is due to the visa waiver between Iran and Russia that has increased for Russian tourists visiting Iran, Mehr reported.

In addition, the number of Iranian passengers visiting Russia has been on the rise, Russian tourism expert Yulia Syundyukova said in February.

After Turkey and India, Iran is [currently] the third tourism source for Russia as a greater number of its nationals choose the country as their travel destination, Syundyukova was quoted by ISNA as saying.

“We see a lot of potential in Iran. A statistical comparison between 2021 and 2022 shows that in 2021, the number of Iranian tourists in Russia was not high, but in 2022, it reached about 20,500. This number is significant,” said Syundyukova, who presides over a Moscow department for interaction with the foreign tourism industry.

Talking about a previously inked visa-waiver agreement between Tehran and Moscow, Syundyukova said: “We are constantly trying to talk to our colleagues in this regard, and we will do our best to implement this agreement as soon as possible.”

The agreement was initially signed by former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in 2017.

“We predict that with the cancellation of visas for group trips, the number of tourists will double to triple,” she said.

The Head of the Iranian Tour Operators Association Ebrahim Pourfaraj believes the majority of potential Russian travelers are unaware of the vast tourist attractions that exist in every corner of Iran. “The fact is that Iran’s political and economic relations with Russia are considered 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.”

The Islamic Republic expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 26 are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.


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