People, Travel

Educated Americans Joining Iranian Tours

Educated Americans Joining Iranian ToursEducated Americans Joining Iranian Tours

Demand to visit Iran has notably increased among American tourists, said the head of Iranian Tour Operators’ Association, Ebrahim Pourfaraj.

Speaking to ILNA, Pourfaraj said academics from the United States’ top universities, such as Stanford and Harvard, are eager to travel to Iran.

“The last VIP train that came to Iran carried Stanford University professors, which is not unprecedented. It’s clear that educated Americans with a penchant for culture and history are aware of what Iran has to offer,” he said.

Reports indicate that there has been a rise in the number of Americans eager to visit Iran in the past three months, possibly as a result of the framework nuclear accord signed in April.

Attributing Iran’s improved global profile to the foreign policy of President Hassan Rouhani, Pourfaraj said requests for tours of Iran have risen among Europeans as well.

“Demand for Iranian tours in France, Germany and Spain had dropped, but is now back on track,” he said.

“Tourists are abandoning top Middle Eastern and North African tourist destinations, such as Iraq and Egypt, in favor of Iran due to its political stability.”

He emphasized the importance of “seizing the opportunity” to promote Iranian culture, history and civilization to the world and negate the effects of western media’s smear campaign.

The official acknowledged the government’s policies to develop Iranian tourism and said the private sector would love to collaborate with the public sector, but authorities must realize that with the rise in the number of tourists, the private sector’s expectations have also increased.

Pourfaraj lamented Iran’s underdeveloped infrastructure and warned that the country is not ready to meet the expected surge in demand.

“Isfahan, for instance, should be able to host up to 40 million tourists a year, but it only has one 5-star hotel with 180 suites. Other cities, such as Yazd and Ahvaz, also suffer from the same problem,” he said.

Pourfaraj reiterated that it is essential to move away from an oil-dependent economy and said a thriving tourism industry can be extremely profitable.

“It can create many job opportunities and help boost Iran’s global profile. But a booming tourism industry is contingent on developing modern infrastructure,” he said.