People, Travel

Vatican Cooperation

Vatican CooperationVatican Cooperation

A recent visit to Tehran by Bishop Monsignor Liberio Andretta, head of the Vatican’s pilgrimage office Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, could help improve Iran’s image among Catholics and boost tourism, according to an official.

Bishop Andretta, who headed a four-member delegation to Tehran on February 2, visited the National Museum of Iran, Adrian Fire Temple, Golestan Palace and Saint Sarkis Cathedral, IRNA reported.

“His visit will no doubt help boost our image among Catholics worldwide,” said Rajabali Khosroabadi, director of the Tehran chapter of the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

Speaking to ISNA, the bishop said Iran and the Vatican firmly believe that “tourism is the best way to bring followers of different faiths together and help spread peace.”

He said the delegation’s mission was to “strengthen bilateral ties and bring Muslims and Christians together.”

Andretta admitted to have been “surprised” by how vastly different Iran is in reality compared to the image portrayed by the western media.

“Despite being well-read on Iran and ignoring what the media try to push on us, I was still surprised by what I saw here,” he said.

Pointing to a plan by the Vatican to expand tourism cooperation with Iran, the bishop said a joint working group with ICHHTO and the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization will be formed to devise a roadmap for future collaboration.

A familiarization tour for Italian journalists and travel agents is reportedly in the works.