People, Travel

Tehran Targets 15% Hike in Foreign Tourists

Tehran Targets 15% Hike in Foreign TouristsTehran Targets 15% Hike in Foreign Tourists

Tourism officials in the Iranian capital are eying an annual hike of 15% in foreign tourist attraction.

Speaking to IRNA, Ali Rafi’i, tourism deputy at the Tehran office of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, said some 1.2 million foreign tourists visited the metropolis in the last Iranian year (ended March 19, 2016), which marks a 12% increase compared to a year earlier.

“By developing the infrastructure, we’ll be able to increase that figure by 15% this year (ends March 20, 2017),” he said.

Tehran’s expanding metro system and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) network have promoted traveling across the sprawling city, which is home to 12 million people. However, a lack of quality hotels has stymied progress.

Rafi’i said recent measures by the government, such as issuing visas on arrival at international airports for citizens of more than 190 countries and extending their duration from 15 to 90 days, facilitating visa procedures for countries such as Russia and abolishing the visa regime with others, such as Georgia, will help the country achieve its goals.

Iran currently receives more than 5 million tourists annually, which is 15 million short of the country’s 2025 goal.

While not as historically rich as many other destinations, Tehran is home to upscale art galleries and cafes, numerous shopping centers and beautiful historical palaces, among others.