Iran is considering the option of allowing visitors from Russia to enter the country without a visa, in an effort to increase tourism revenue, Tehran Times reported.
The move comes after Tehran granted the same privilege for some other nationals including Chinese and Omani passport holders. Iran’s minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said last month that Iranian and Russian officials are “set to sign a visa waiver agreement in the near future,” without providing more details.
The government hopes that tourism, as an emerging sector in Iran could flourish soon, adding “there are very good capacities at present and we have 24 globally-registered [cultural and natural] properties and over a thousand ones on the national heritage list.”
“With striking regional customs, pristine nature and attractive landscapes, our country will surely witness a tourism boom in the coming years,” Mounesan said.
In November, the executive director of the Russian Association of Tour Operators (ATOR), Maya Lomidze, said that a growing number of Russian tourists have shown interest in visiting Iran. According to her, the tourism industry is constantly growing in the Middle East country, which she hailed as the same “ancient Persia” in the eyes of Russians.
She also emphasized that Iran’s proximity to Iraq or other Middle East countries that grapple with instability has not dampened the Russian tourists’ enthusiasm for visiting Iran.
Lomidze said the visa regime currently prevents a bigger rise in the number of Russians visiting Iran since visas are not issued at border points.
Iran welcomed some four million foreign nationals during the first five months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21 – August 22), which represents a 30 percent hike, compared with the same period last year, according to official data compiled by the Ministry of Tourism. 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.