TEHRAN—The number of foreign arrivals in Mashhad is expected to double during the last ten days of Safar, the second month of the lunar Islamic calendar in which Shia Muslims hold special mourning services.
“It is predicted that this year the arrival of foreign pilgrims to Mashhad will increase more than two times in the last ten days of Safar,” ISNA quoted a local official as saying on Sunday.
“We predict that a large number of pilgrims from Karbala and neighboring countries will visit Mashhad in the last decade of Safar as coronavirus restrictions have been abolished,” said Davood Khosh-shekan, who presides over the medical tourism department at the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences.
Earlier this year, the Islamic Republic scrapped all coronavirus-related restrictions such as pre-departure COVID test requirements for incoming flights.
Khosh-shekan said foreign nationals will constitute a considerable figure of people traveling to Mashhad during the period. “Therefore, we have notified all medical centers to be on alert so that they do not have any strictness in tariffs and accepting foreign patients, aimed at providing proper services to the pilgrims of Imam Reza (AS).”
In the month of Safar, thousands of people gather in Mashhad to commemorate Arbaeen, which marks an end to the 40-day mourning period following the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) and his loyal companions at the Battle of Karbala on Muharram 10 in the year 61 AH (680 CE). According to Khosh-shekan, Mashhad’s medical tourism revenues were about 1.119 trillion rials (some $2.2 million) during the first three months of the current Iranian calendar year (started on March 21), which shows 35 percent growth year on year.
The number of foreign travelers receiving medical services rose seven percent year on year. A total of 13,948 foreign nationals received medical services in Mashhad this spring while the number reached 13,074 in the same period last year, he said.
He noted that 8,708 Afghan nationals, 3,684 people from Iraq, 793 from Turkmenistan, and 226 travelers from Bahrain were admitted to Mashhad hospitals during the first three months of the current year.
Visiting Iran for medical purposes is widely considered a win-win opportunity both for the country and foreign patients due to affordable yet quality treatment services. Credible surgeons and physicians, cutting-edge medical technologies, high-tech medicine and diverse specializations, super affordable procedures, and finally its hospitable people, are considered Iran’s trump card when it comes to medical tourism.
Mashhad is Iran’s holiest city. Its raison d’être is the striking shrine complex of the eighth Shia Imam that is encircled by dozens of five-star hotels and many other accommodation centers.
In August 2020, the spiritual tradition of pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) was registered on the National Intangible Cultural Heritage list by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts.
Original News : https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/488686/Mashhad-expects-travel-boom-as-Iran-relaxes-COVID-rules