Iran will unveil all-inclusive health protocols for inbound travelers within the next week, as the country is still fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Mohammad Qasemi, the director for marketing and advertising at the tourism ministry, announced on Sunday.
As the coronavirus outbreak has severely damaged the tourism industry in the world and caused huge financial losses, countries need to adopt a peaceful coexistence with the virus to reduce its negative and social effects, therefore, while protecting the health of the society, the tourism ministry has decided to define new rules for accepting foreign tourists, the official added.
In fact with issuing such health directives as a guarantee of safe travel to Iran, the country provides a secure platform for the inbound tourists, and in the long run, having foreign tourists and tours will be possible within a disciplined framework, he mentioned.
In the new health protocol, inbound traveler refers to both foreign tourists entering Iran and Iranians returning from a foreign trip to the country and it is to take effect in all borders and entry terminals, including airports, ports, and land terminals.
Back in July, Iran extended a ban on inbound group tours, while travel agencies were allowed to organize business tours for individuals. The national headquarters for the coronavirus control issued a permit for solo travelers to enter the country in accordance with health protocols, but group tours were prohibited.
Earlier last week, Iranian authorities announced that the COVID-19 negative PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test is required for all travelers to enter the country.
Not issuing visas on arrival for tourists, specific mandates for testing, tracing, receiving of a traveler test/vaccine certificate, identifying infected travelers, and removing them from the travel ecosystem and putting them in quarantine were among the new regulations for traveling to Iran.
However, in June, Mohammad Ali Vaqefi, the vice president of the Iranian Tour Operators Association, warned that the coronavirus pandemic may turn tours and travels in Iran into luxury items as observing health protocols will raise the cost of travel in the country.
“With the continuation of the coronavirus outbreak, tourists may prefer individual travel rather than tours. They may also choose to go on a trip by their own vehicle and stay in tents or in nature instead of hotels…. So far, 90 percent of the 2020 inbound tours have been canceled, and the possibility of canceling the remaining 10 percent is still high,” he explained.
Iran has suffered an average 15.8 percent fall in foreign arrivals during the first three months of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to data released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) that analyzes the impact of the COVID-19 on international tourism.
The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill, and tourism has been the worst affected of all major economic sectors.
Back in March, the UN specialized agency for tourism announced that it expected international tourist arrivals would be down by 20 percent to 30 percent in 2020 when compared with 2019 figures.
Iranian deputy tourism minister Vali Teymouri has said that international tourism could be recovered soon because it is mostly relying on potential travelers and pilgrims from the neighboring countries.
“Given the policies of the country’s tourism industry over the past two years to focus on tourism markets in the neighboring countries, the possibility of recovering and reviving international tourism in the shortest possible time is predictable,” Teymouri told the Tehran Times in May.
Iran expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 24 being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, it aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.
The latest available data show eight million tourists visited the Islamic Republic during the first ten months of the past Iranian calendar year (started March 21, 2019).