Iran has not stopped issuing tourist visas
By the emergence of a highly contagious Omicron variant, Iran has not stopped issuing tourist visas, which it resumed on October 23 following 19 months of suspension to curb the virus.
“Following the closure of Iran’s airspace to six [African] countries where the Omicron variant has been detected, concerns have been raised about the issuance of Iranian tourist visas,” Leyla Ajdari, an official in charge of foreign tourism marketing, said on Friday. In response to those concerns, she stressed there is no plan yet to halt the re-issuance of Iranian tourist visas, ISNA reported. Iran’s National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control on November 27 banned arrivals from the African countries of Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Swatini reacting to the new variant. The Omicron variant appears able to get around some immunity but vaccines should still offer protection against severe disease, according to the latest data from South Africa where it is fast overtaking Delta to become the dominant variant. Omicron, which has raised global fears of a surge in infections, was first detected in southern Africa earlier this month and has prompted governments across the globe to impose travel restrictions and take other measures to try and contain it. For the time being, some travel experts believe the restoration of tourism flow is of high importance for the Islamic Republic. Iranian Tour Operators Director Ebrahim Pourfaraj said earlier this month that the restoration of tourism flow to the country is very important for Iranian tour operators and travel insiders. “At the moment, we are not thinking about revenues, but we are looking for the beginning of the tourist flow to the country and renew our links [with international fellows],” Pourfaraj said. His comments came after months of steep recession triggered by massive coronavirus restrictions which led many travel insiders, hoteliers, and tour operators towards bankruptcy, unemployment, debts, and the prospects of not being competitive on the international level. As mentioned by Pourfaraj, Iran has made its best to maintain contact with global tourism markets and companies that worked with Iran in the past, especially since virtual communication and meetings have thrived. “Following the resumption of the tourist visa, visitors from Russia and France have traveled to Iran and we are currently expecting a smaller number of tourists in Iran due to the current situation in the world,” he explained. Iran is potentially a booming destination for travelers seeking cultural attractions, breathtaking sceneries, and numerous UNESCO-registered sites. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, Iran aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.