Tehran, Beijing hold enormous potential for tourism co-op: minister

November 30, 2019 - 19:22

TEHRAN – Iran’s tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan on Thursday called for tapping into Iran-China tourism capacity, which he referred to it as “enormous”, Fars reported on Friday. 

Mounesan made the remarks in a gathering of international tourism officials, marketers, hoteliers, private investors, and tour operators, which was held in Beijing, China, on the sidelines of the third ministerial meeting of the Ancient Civilizations Forum. 
Given the [high] rate of economic and political ties between the two countries, tourist exchanges are also expected to further improve, the minister noted. 

Elsewhere in his remarks, Mounesan described tourism as a means for [securing] peace, dialogue, and interaction among nations. 

“Iranian people are very interested to visit China and get familiar with its culture and that’s why the number of Iranians visiting China exceeds Chinese traveling to Iran,” he said.

Mounesan further noted that his ministry has always tried to ease the entrance of the Chinese visitors to Iran.

Last year, 52,800 Chinese tourists visited Iran and it is anticipated the figure hit one million in the very near future, he said.

Earlier on the day, upon arriving in China, Mounesan said that his country is eyeing more inbound tourists from China, adding that Tehran is planning to attract 1.5 million tourists from China in the next four to five years.

Back in June, the Iranian government approved a proposal for allowing visa-free entry of the Chinese nationals into the country. The law took effect on July 16.

The decision came in response to a joint request by the Foreign Ministry and the then Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran (which later transformed into a ministry).

At that time, Mounesan said the decision would greatly boost Iran’s ability to attract Chinese tourists to the country amid attempts to increase Iran’s foreign currency revenues from the tourism sector.

“Our target is to use the vast potentials and attractions in our country to host two million Chinese tourists each year,” said Mounesan, while announcing the government decision, Fars reported. 

Prior to this law, the Chinese needed to obtain a visa upon their arrival in Iran. It comes as Iranians still need to receive visas to travel to China. The two countries have been working on a scheme since 2014 to reciprocally waive visa requirements, the report added.