Economy, Domestic Economy

Tourism Official Urges More Iran-Russia Flights

Tourism Official Urges More Iran-Russia FlightsTourism Official Urges More Iran-Russia Flights

A senior official at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization said there should be more frequent flights from Russia to various destinations in Iran to help the two sides reap the benefits of relaxed visa procedures between Tehran and Moscow.

“Expanding flight routes and easing visa regulations are key factors that will encourage Russian tourists to visit Iran,” Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at ICHHTO, told ISNA.

The official said Iran can serve as a retreat for Russians looking to escape the cold climate of Russia.

“Russia experiences nine months of intense cold, during which time Europe isn’t any warmer, so we need to promote Iran as a potential alternative,” he said, adding that more flight routes need to be launched connecting Russia to Iran’s warmer cities.

At present, Iran’s Mahan Air and Russia’s Aeroflot fly between the two countries, connecting Moscow and Astrakhan to Tehran.

Iran’s short-term goal is to draw 100,000 Russians a year, up from the current 25,000.

Earlier this month, Oleg Safonov, the head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Tourism, his office and the Russian Foreign Ministry made the issuance of visa waivers for Iranian tours a priority.

While that is good news, Movahed says nothing is final yet.

“Our policy is to reciprocate—meaning we’ll offer the same courtesy to Russian tours—but nothing can happen until the foreign ministries of the two countries sign a deal,” he said.

Iran has made known its intention to completely abolish the visa regime for Russian nationals, provided Moscow agrees on a mutual move.

In February, the two nations relaxed visa procedures what the Russian media have described as “the first step toward a visa-free regime”.

According to Rosstat (Russia’s state statistics service), nearly 35,000 Iranians visited Russia in 2015, which marks a rise of more than 110% compared to a year ago. Russia expects about 70,000 Iranians to visit this year. Iran is said to be a top 20 tourism source market for Moscow.

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