September 26, 2023

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Iran saw 1.4 million tourists from mid-March to mid-June

TEHRAN – Iran saw some 1.4 million tourist arrivals during the first three months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21 – June 21), which shows 43 percent growth year on year.

The Islamic Republic saw a rise of 43% in the first three months of the year from a year earlier after it attracted 1,410,822 foreign nationals during the three months, the tourism ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Iran welcomed 986,652 foreign nationals during the same period last year, and a 43 percent rise may indicate the country’s recovering from a previous travel slump caused by COVID restrictions, Mehr reported.

Iran’s international arrivals in 2022  stood at 4.1 million, which rose 315 percent from a year earlier, according to the statistics bureau of the World Tourism Organization. Moreover, its data showed that the Islamic Republic attracted 990,000 tourists in 2021.

The upsurge of foreign tourist arrivals in 2022 was three times the global average growth in this field. Nevertheless, Iran’s share in attracting foreign tourists is still small, and only 0.4% of all foreign tourist trips in 2022 have been made to Iran, the report said.

Before the COVID pandemic, Iran’s tourism had constantly been growing, reaching more than eight million visitors in the Iranian calendar year 1398 (started March 21, 2019).

Over the past couple of years, Iran has set its sights on attracting visitors mostly from neighboring countries. To underpin tourism, the country is currently working on a proposal to scrap visa requirements for passport holders of 60 countries, including the neighboring states, the deputy tourism minister, Ali-Asghar Shalbafian, said earlier this month.

To cite another example of religious tourism, a host of pilgrims from Armenia along with their fellow Iranian Christians, visited the ancient monastery of Saint Stepanos, a UNESCO World Heritage site with rich murals of biblical scenes and ornate facades, earlier this month.

In addition to neighboring states, tourists from Russia and China are increasing in the Islamic Republic. Beijing-backed diplomatic reconciliation with Saudi Arabia this year paved the way for direct flights, and Tehran is also seeking closer ties with other countries, from Egypt to Morocco.

Iran’s medical tourism revenues reached $1 billion during the past Iranian calendar year (ended on March 20), Saeid Karimi, the deputy minister of health, has said. “The Islamic Republic hosted some 1.2 million medical tourists. People from the neighboring countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Oman, Bahrain, Armenia, and Tajikistan, constitute the lion’s share of medical tourists arriving in Iran,” Karimi said.

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.


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