Iran's vice president informed The Associated Press that Iran is heading for a 'tsunami' of foreign tourists. This statement was made after it was declared that Iran and world powers would implement a landmark nuclear deal. The deal will ensure that some sanctions are lifted in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program.
Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization boss Masoud Soltanifar has credited Hassan Rouhani's moderate policies and the reduce strictness of visa regulations for the return of foreign tourists to Iran.
Iran is a country worth visiting given the vast amount of historical and cultural treasures. In the days ahead Iran will present an investment package of 1,300 projects designed to help attract foreign investment and give the beaten tourism industry a well-needed boost. Iran offers foreigners lots to see given that it is the home to an impressive 19 UNESCO-registered sites.
Over the last two years, despite sanctions in place, the percentage of foreign tourists visiting Iran has increased by 12%. Iran raised $7.5 million in revenue back in 2014 when more than 5 million visitors landed for their holidays.
Around half of the visitors were Shiite Muslims. A significant amount of tourists from North America, Europe, and East Asia also visited.
Iran's tourism sector will benefit the most from the post-sanction decisions. Soltanifar believes that the travel industry holds the key to ensuring Iran's economic difficulties come to an end.
Despite people's hope for Iran, the U.S State Department advises U.S. travelers to consider their options carefully when choosing to go on vacation to Iran. The department said that those with dual Iranian citizenship should be especially careful as the may face difficulties in leaving the country. They also warn that citizens of the U.S could encounter harassment or even arrest while in the country.
Iran's Revolutionary Court has convicted foreigners in the past, including a Washington Post reporter who faced charges of espionage. The court failed to provide any details concerning his sentence or verdict.
Soltanifar states that officials are working together to try and remove difficulties that tourists face when visiting Iran by issuing visas upon arrival at the airport in Tehran. The changes will help citizens in 150 countries. The visas will be valid for 30 days, and there is a chance to extend the visa for up to two weeks depending on circumstances. Electronic visas as expected to be issued next year according to tourism authorities.
Both Americans and Brits planning to go to Iran will have to purchase a visa ahead of time to enter mainland Iran in line with their respective governments. Approximately 3,400 Americans visited Iran last year compared to just 1,800 the previous year. By 2025, Iran hopes to host around 20 million tourists a year. If all goes to plan Iran's tourism industry should shoot up to $30 billion.
However, at the present Iran lacks sufficient accommodation and transportation to provide for such a huge number of tourists. Currently, Iran has 1,100 hotels and guesthouses with 130 of them being 4 and 5-star hotels. In a bit to increase the number of accommodation facilities, they are providing private investors with low-interest funds using the National Development monies to create modern hotels.