TEHRAN – Iran’s deputy tourism minister said the newly declared travel restrictions do not apply to all air passengers.
Air passengers are allowed to enter Iran, with the exception of those departing from Botswana, Swatini, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and Namibia as well as from England, France, Norway and Denmark, according to ISNA citing Ali-Asghar Shalbafian as saying Sunday.
The official said land and sea borders will be closed to all travelers except those with specific visas for medical tourism, commerce, business investment and education.
The restrictions are expected to be in place for 15 days from December 19 due to the outbreak of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, according to the report.
Over the past two days, several travel insiders lamented that the breaks for arrivals had caused many problems for those who had predisposed to visit the Islamic Republic.
On Saturday, Hormatollah Rafiei, who chairs the Association of Air Transport and Tourism Agencies of Iran, said some foreign travelers remained outside Iranian borders and did not enter the country due to the ban. . “None of the tourist-friendly countries have implemented such restrictions and bans,” he said, calling the new regulations and instructions “unprofessional” and “bad.”
“While we support the entry ban for citizens of the few African countries that are sources of the new variant of the coronavirus, we oppose the suspension of tourist visas for all foreign nationals.” The decision is wrong and will again cause damage to the country as well as mistrust of Iran in the global tourism market, he lamented.
Some believe that preventing the spread of new variants of the virus and maintaining public health is better than the benefits of tourism.
In the past few days, Iranian tourism activists have urged the three Ministries of Interior, Tourism and Foreign Affairs to facilitate travel to Iran for foreign tourists from the mentioned countries who have obtained tourist visas and are on their way. for Iran or about to visit it.
In addition, a health certificate with a negative PCR test result for the coronavirus, issued no later than 72 hours before arrival, is also required for travelers. The new regulations and restrictions on travel to Iran were put in place just two months after the issuance of visas for foreign visitors after nearly 19 months of suspension.
Last month, Iranian authorities announced that in addition to providing proof of vaccination or a negative PCR, inbound passengers must have coronavirus insurance, which differs from the routine insurance coverage taken out by all tourists prior to the event. era of the coronavirus.
The pandemic has taken its toll on Iran’s civil aviation sector. For example, airlines reportedly lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to flight cancellations during the busy New Years travel season last March.
Some experts say Iran has the potential to experience a tourism boom after coronavirus containment, believing its impact to be temporary and short-lived for a country that has ranked third fastest growing tourist destination in 2019.
Iran is potentially a booming destination for travelers looking for cultural attractions, breathtaking scenery and numerous UNESCO-listed sites. As part of the Tourism Vision 2025 plan, Iran aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.