At present, Turkey sees significantly more Iranian tourists coming into the country than Turkish tourists visiting Iran. Both countries realized the need for an investment from the private sector in tourism in Turkey and Iran.
In an attempt to strengthen ties in tourism, the "Director of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft Organization of Iran, Masoud Soltanifar, and the Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mahir Unal," met in Tehran. Both countries are adamant to improve tourism cooperation such that this will be a mutual benefit for each nation. Unal and Soltanifar came to an agreement, and signed a "memorandum of understanding towards promoting cooperation in the field of tourism."
Turkey, in particular, has seen a decline in the number of European and Russian tourists, who make up the largest number of foreigner tourists and tourism has decreased significantly over the past year, by more than 15%. Tourism revenue is crucial to Turkey and brings in 4.5% of its billion dollar economy. Iran is fortunate in that it's safe for tourists to travel around the country.
The agreement hopes to increase the mutual visits of nationals from both countries and increase the Turkish investment in tourism in Iran. Turkish investors are expected to construct ten hotels in various locations across Iran shortly. Locations include Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz and Mashhad, to name a few.
Both charter flights, as well as scheduled flights, have a direct impact on the numbers of tourists coming in during the high season. It's become a priority to increase the number of chartered flights as well as adding to the destinations. Unal states that "Iran and Turkey are both tourist destinations which could potentially see a tourism boom should they cooperate mutually.
Soltanifar suggested that having organized tours for Chinese and other Asian tourists would be something to consider. These tourists could visit the historical and cultural sites in Iran and Turkey in the coming years. Such tours will lead to more and more visitors from these countries coming specifically for such trips, and hopefully, this will boost tourism in Turkey.
"Nowruz" Iranian new year brought in a significant number of tourists from Iran this year in comparison to previous years. With travel agencies promoting tours during this time Turkey had an influx of Iranian tourists who packed the flights. Many of them came to do shopping and take a few tours to see the local attractions, as they'd heard good reports about holidays in Turkey. Iranians also enjoy visiting the resorts in Antalya and Bodrum along the coastline. They are quite welcomed, as they are polite and friendly.
Turkish Airlines have existing flights to Tehran, Mashhad, and Tabriz. They have recently added Shiraz to their Iranian destinations. As many Iranians visit Turkey, Soltanifar expects to have more Turkish tourists in Iran and invited Turks to pay a visit to his country to experience it for themselves.