Iranian Tour Operators Association pursues tourist visas resumption

April 12, 2021 - 22:11

TEHRAN – Iranian Tour Operators Association is formulating a proposal for the resumption of tourist visas after months of suspension amid strict government measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Iranian visas are being granted to medical tourists… and we have requested the Foreign Ministry to issue the same permits for the applicants of other tourism arenas,” ISNA quoted Ebrahim Pourfaraj who presides the association, as saying on Monday.

“In a meeting with Seyyed Kazem Sajjadi, the deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary, and Expatriates Affairs, I was supposed to provide some information and a plan for re-issuing [tourist] visas,” he explained.

The veteran expert has asked the government to issue tourist visas for the international applicants who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. “The Ministry of Health and the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control can at least agree that the international tourists who have received the [second dose of] coronavirus vaccine would be allowed to enter Iran.”

Last month, he lamented that the continuation of such a trend would result in losing international tourist markets more than before. “Or at least they should make it clear so that we can respond appropriately to foreign companies and tourists to not to miss the international tourist markets more than before.”

Pourfaraj believes that the reasonable prices of Iran tours are expected to bring back the boom into the tourism sector of the country in the post coronavirus era. “Attractive tour plans are also being prepared for those who are eager to explore the historical attractions and natural wonders of the ancient country and want to experience a vacation here.”

Pourfaraj also expressed hope that international tour operators and companies who have worked with their Iranian counterparts for years, would put Iran back on the world’s travel route again, considering the facilities they can get at cheaper prices than in other countries.

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.

Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan in October warned that Iran’s cultural heritage and tourism will be in a critical situation if the crises caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus continue. Last August, Mounesan said that Iran’s tourism has suffered a loss of 12 trillion rials (some $2.85 billion) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Furthermore, the minister also noted that the coronavirus pandemic should not bring traveling to a complete standstill. “Corona is a fact, but can the virus stop tourism? Certainly not. For us, the coronavirus is a new experience in dealing with crises that teaches tourism experts around the world how to deal with such a disaster, and thankfully governments are turning this into an opportunity for better planning.” Smart and responsible traveling should replace "do not travel” recommendations, the minister stressed, adding: “In our country, Corona has caused problems in the tourism industry and the worrying point is the continuation of this trend.”

“We are well aware of what the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control proclaims [the health protocols], hence as a proposal, we have formulated some smart, responsible travel packages by the implementation of which we could have secure travels,” the minister said. He has repeatedly announced that his ministry is in full coordination with the Ministry of Health for strictly implementing health protocols in travel destinations, hospitably centers, and museums, amongst others, underlining that “people’s health is our priority.”

The ancient land embraces hundreds of historical sites such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 24 being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, the country aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.