August 14, 2022

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Iran’s Kish to give Iran’s Kish to give visa-free entry to World Cup spectators

TEHRAN – Kish will exempt Qatar World Cup spectators from needing an entry visa for visiting the southern Iranian island in a move to support tourism and the domestic economy.

The visa-free travel was announced on Friday when Tehran and Doha signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to widen aviation collaboration.

The two countries have discussed ways to further deepen tourism, cultural heritage, and handicraft ties by taking advantage of the World Cup opportunity in Qatar.

Earlier this year, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ezzatollah Zarghami and Qatar’s Minister of Culture and Sports Abdulrahman bin Hamad bin Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani met in Tehran, exchanging views on how to facilitate tourism during the major event.

Zarghami says the country must take the immense opportunity to 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.”

“Over the past months, we have prepared some plans to arrack attendees to the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer championship, ” Zarghami said. “Most importantly, our [southern] islands and free zones [in the Persian Gulf] are prepared to host foreign spectators since they are appealing and wallet-friendly destinations.”

Many people are interested to visit Iran for its historical attractions and ecotourism to name a few, Zarghami stated.

His deputy for tourism, Ali-Asghar Shalbafian, says the landmark event would give 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 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.”

Moreover, the head of the Association of Kish Hoteliers has announced the island is ready to host Qatar World Cup spectators as well as participating teams. “The proximity of Kish to Qatar and the lower cost of staying on this island make it possible for spectators and teams to stay here during the World Cup.”

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.

Head of the Iranian Tour Operators Ebrahim Pourfaraj believes the World Cup should be a turning point in Iran’s tourism industry. “By attracting World Cup spectators to Iran, the Iranian tourism industry could secure a brighter future.” There is also a need for the Iranian southern islands of Kish and Qeshm to re-affirm their accommodation centers’ capacity to receive foreign travelers, he noted.

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.

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.


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