Why Iran Is A New Tourist Hotspot
Apr. 4, 2014
Iran is becoming a tourist hotspot this year, with tour operators reporting significant increases in tourists booking trips to the Middle Eastern country.
Perhaps that's because of a slight thaw in its relationships with the West, or simply because of the allure of exploring a little-known tourist destination with few other tourists around.
Americans are allowed to visit Iran. In fact, Iran is actively encouraging visits from them. But U.S. citizens who do visit must travel with an official tour guide and get their itinerary approved by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to get a visa. Travel within Iran is considered safe if you tour responsibly, even though the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel warning to Iran.
From ancient cities with breathtaking mosques to gorgeous natural landscapes, here are some of Iran's most beautiful, and untouched, tourist attractions.
Iran is 2014's surprise tourism hit
01 Apr 2014
Tour operators have seen a significant rise in bookings for holidays to Iran, as improved relations with the West and an expectation that Foreign Office travel advice will be relaxed boost tourist interest.
Wild Frontiers, an adventure operator, has nine group tours scheduled for 2014, five of which are sold out to their maximum capacity of 12, and contrasts with two group tours in 2013, neither of which ran full. The company has seen tailor-made bookings rise from four last year to 26 so far in 2014, with many more in the pipeline.
Tailor-madeadventures.com, which creates itineraries for Iran, has seen an 80 per cent increase in enquiries since the beginning of the year and said that the vast majority of interested customers have gone on to book. The company sent 24 customers to the country in 2013, and so far has had bookings for 50 people this year.
Jim O’Brien, the company's head of development, said: "Thirty-five years ago, Iran dropped off the tourist map, becoming the preserve of a few hardcore independent travellers and those in organised groups. Since the election of Hassan Rouhani as president last August, however, and a thawing in political relations with the west, it seems that Iran is returning to travellers' bucket lists with a bang."
Numerous tour operators have compared Iran’s future to that of Burma, which has been a top-selling destination since the election of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2012 and the subsequent change in stance on tourism in the country.