Iran tourism chief has said that the country is putting a great deal of effort to facilitate and increase foreign tourist arrivals.
“We are making efforts to provide target countries with good facilities in order to travel to Iran easily,” Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization Director Ali-Asghar Mounesan said on Thursday.
Stating that the tourism industry would soon turn into a new stimulus for the country”s economic growth, the official said that Iran has taken new measures such as issuing electronic visas to attract foreign tourists.
In a related move last month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered authorities to dismantle requirements for mandatory stamping of passports for foreigners arriving in Iran.
Considering the large population of China and the fact that some 150 million Chinese nationals visit other countries each year, Iran sets sights on attracting Chinese tourists, he said, adding that the Iranian government has given the go ahead for annulling visa requirements for Chinese nationals.
The government passed a law last Sunday lifting visa restrictions for Chinese visitors. The decision came in response to a joint request by the Foreign Ministry and the CHHTO as the country moves to find new sources of revenues amid the unilateral U.S. sanctions.
Prior to the Sunday announcement for visa-free travel, the Chinese needed to obtain visa upon their arrival in Iran. It comes as Iranians still need to receive visas to travel to China. The two countries have been working on a scheme since 2014 to reciprocally waive visa requirements.
Iran is where tens of human civilizations and empires grew and fell apart. It was once the center of the Persian Empire, officially the Achaemenid Persian Empire which ruled a huge area covering modern day North Africa, Turkey, parts of the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, all the way to west India.
The country hosts some of the world”s oldest cultural monuments, including 22 UNESCO World Heritage sites, and a varied terrain that ranges from desert landscape to ski resorts.