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Iraq, Turkey Main Tourism Sources for Iran

by Timothy Johnston
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TEHRAN – Iraqi and Turkish tourists made up most of the incoming tourists to Iran in 2021.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s latest report, the main sources of tourism for Iran in 2021 were Iraq and Turkey.

The report indicates that tourists from Iraq and Turkey constituted 34% and 15% of all inbound visitors, respectively.

Other major sources were Pakistan (10%), Azerbaijan (9%), and Kuwait (2%). The remaining 29% came from the rest of the world.

Turkey was also the most popular tourist destination for Iranians, selected by some 71 percent of outbound travelers from the Islamic Republic during the mentioned period.

Iraq (13%), United Arab Emirates (6%) Syria (2%), and Armenia (2%) were other top destinations for Iranian tourists.

Last August, tourism minister Ezzatollah Zarghami said that Iran recorded about 2.9 million foreign tourist arrivals over the past 11 months.

The tourism minister said the rate of tourist arrivals, concerning coronavirus restrictions, is ahead of some international estimates.

“Designing an Iranophobia project and presenting a negative image of Iran in some media is one of the obstacles to attracting foreign tourists,” Zarghami said.

“We have many relative advantages and facilities that none of the countries in the region have.”

Long shunned by Western travelers, the Islamic Republic has steadily stepped-up efforts to use tourism, over the past couple of years, to help promote its international image battered by endless opposition mostly from the U.S.

Experts believe even before the pandemic, Iran’s tourism was already grappling with some challenges, on top of those Western “media propaganda” aimed at scaring potential travelers away from the Islamic Republic. They say Iran is still somehow “unknown” to many potential travelers due to such a “media war.”

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). That surge, however, helped prejudices to become thick and thin.

However, Iran’s trump card is that the country benefits from a wide variety of travel destinations ranging from seacoasts and lush green woods to towering mountains and harsh deserts. As a wallet-friendly destination with hospitable people, Iran has long been a desired destination for nature lovers, birdwatchers, powder chasers, culture devotees, pilgrims, museum-goers, foodies, adventurers, and medical travelers, to name a few.

Mass COVID-19 vaccinations, consecutive fam tours for foreign tour operators, easing travel procedures, and fresh strategies, altogether, suggest Iran is determined to experience a tourism rebound with a greater reliance on its numerous tourist spots of which 26 are UNESCO World Heritage, above all, its welcoming people.

Source : TehranTimes

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