September 30, 2023

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Ardabil to draw more travelers from China

TEHRAN – Iran’s Ardabil province which is famed for its rich cultural heritage and natural scenery seeks to attract more visitors from China.

“Ardabil has inked three MOUs with the Chinese province of Qinghai. According to one of the memorandums, five thousand Chinese tourists will visit Ardabil province by the end of this [Iranian calendar] year,” Ardabil’s tourism chief said on Wednesday.

As mentioned by Hassan Mohammadiadib, Ardabil, which currently serves as the 2023 ECO Tourism Capital, is organizing familiarization tours for Chinese and

Russian nationals. “We are organizing [familiarization] tours for some Chinese and Russian nationals. They will soon arrive in Ardabil to visit different areas of the province.”

Home to countless natural and historical spots including 26 UNESCO-registered sites, Iran among other countries in West Asia and Africa has become the new favorite “unexpected names” on Chinese travelers’ list of summer vacation destinations this year.

Over the past couple of years, the Islamic Republic has made efforts to become a popular destination for Chinese nationals. “We should pay attention to the Chinese market in a more pragmatic approach,” Ali-Asghar Shalbafian, the deputy tourism minister, has said.

“So far, steps have been taken to examine the Chinese tourism market, but today the (essential) need is to implement executive measures based on [our] fault detection and macro planning,” the official explained.

Experts believe that insignificant numbers of Chinese restaurants, Chinese-language guides, or even inappropriate lodging facilities have been among the main reasons why Chinese arrivals in Iran fall short of expectations.

Tehran’s ex-ambassador to Beijing said Iran was seeking to become a tourist destination for millions of potential travelers from China as the two countries are working on a 25-year comprehensive cooperation plan that includes boosting relations in the field of tourism.

Speaking in the TV program, Mehdi Safari reminded some 200 million Chinese tourists to visit different countries annually, adding “According to this agreement Iran will become one of the tourist destinations for Chinese travelers so that Iran can attract one to two million Chinese tourists to the country.”

In 2019, the Islamic Republic waived the visa requirement for Chinese nationals willing to visit the country. The decision was made to attract more foreign tourists to the country; however, it was a unilateral measure, because Iranian tourists visiting China still need visas.

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