May 24, 2022

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Iran considers offering free visas on arrival during World Cup

Iran considers offering free visas on arrival during World Cup – Tehran Times

TEHRAN – Iran considers offering free visas on arrival to boost tourism during Qatar World Cup. 

The Iranian government mulls over a visa simplification procedure at the suggestion of its Foreign Ministry to draw spectators from the neighboring Qatar which plays host to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in November and December.

The Iranian government has been required to grant a free visa to citizens whose national football teams qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar for a one-time or a two-time period with a validity period of two months and a 30-day stay, YJC reported on Saturday.

Additionally, nationals of all countries (except those from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Somalia, Sri Lanka) who are subject to tourist visa requirements as well as all nationals of the U.S., UK, and Canada can apply for a free visa once, twice or multiple times if they provide a ticket from Doha.

Free visas can encourage World Cup spectators to visit Iran during the event, some experts say.  

Back in February, Iranian tourism minister Ezzatollah Zarghami said that Iran must take an immense opportunity to be provided by the upcoming Qatar World Cup to properly introduce the county to the international spectators of the major event. 

“A significant number of travelers, mostly young people, would arrive in Qatar to attend the World Cup… It provides an exceptional opportunity for us to properly introduce tourist attractions of the country,” he added. 

“Over the past months, we have prepared some plans to arrack attendees to the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer championship.”

The minister said many people are interested to visit Iran for its historical attractions and ecotourism to name a few.

Furthermore, Zarghami’s deputy for tourism, Ali-Asghar Shalbafian, has said the landmark event gives Iran a chance to dwindle the so-called anti-Iranian sentiments known as Iranophobia. “Qatar’s World Cup offers a unique opportunity to introduce destinations near the host country, and we should take advantage of this opportunity to confront Iranophobia.”

To make good use of this occasion, it is necessary to develop consensus among the relevant agencies, and if this does not occur, it will be detrimental to the country, Shalbafian explained.

The geographical position of Iran and its unique tourist attractions make it a potential destination for the World Cup spectators, the official added. “Therefore, proper policy-making and management in collaboration with the private sector can pave the way for the widespread use of this event.”

Iran football team became the 14th team to book their place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Moreover, the ‘Persian Leopards’ became the first Asian team to book their place in a major competition. Iran, No. 21 in the current FIFA world rankings, will kick off the World Cup campaign in Qatar against fifth-ranked England on November 21 before facing Wales/Scotland/Ukraine on November 25. The Iranians will close out Group B play on November 30 versus the U.S. (No. 15 in FIFA ranking).

Experts believe Iran would achieve a tourism rebound after the coronavirus disease is contained, believing its impact would be temporary and short-lived for a country that ranked the third fastest-growing tourism destination in 2019.

However, even before the coronavirus pandemic, Iran’s tourism was already grappling with some challenges, on top of those Western “media propaganda” aimed at scaring potential travelers away from the Islamic Republic. Some experts believe Iran is still somehow “unknown” to many potential travelers due to such a “media war”. They, however, consider bright prospects for the tourism sector of the country if it vigorously pursues comprehensive strategies to counter U.S.-led propaganda and strict sanctions, yet does its best to loosen tough travel regulations.

The Islamic Republic expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 26 are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, Iran aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.


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