People, Travel

Operators’ Compliance With Turkey Tour Ban Commended

The ban was lifted on August 13.The ban was lifted on August 13.

Based on reports from Iran’s Cultural heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, almost all travel agencies in Iran complied with the temporary ban on Turkey tours.

Vali Teymouri, director of Monitoring and Assessment of Tourism Services Office at ICHHTO, said only one travel agency (in Tehran) was closed down due to violating the ban, adding that there are a number of open cases against a small number of tour operators.

“Travel agencies’ cooperation is due to ICHHTO monitoring and their intention to maintain their credibility,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

Following an attempt by a faction of the Turkish military to topple the ruling party in Turkey on July 15, Iranian tourism officials placed an indefinite ban on tours to the popular destination. Regular flights to Turkey, however, were resumed a few days after the incident.

“We had placed a ban on leisure tours but didn’t prohibit those who intended to travel for business or consular affairs,” said Teymouri. Turkey is the usual destination for Iranians seeking to get a visa to a country with which Iran has no diplomatic relations.

Travel agencies, which were reportedly under significant financial pressure, frequently called on authorities to lift the ban. A number of them argued that business travelers who cannot cancel their trips will have to rely on unlicensed tour operators if authorized agencies are not allowed to make the necessary arrangements for them.

Gholamreza Abazari, chairman of the board of Tehran Tour and Travel Agencies Association, had earlier warned that the ban would provide a platform for “opportunists” to organize substandard tours for people eager to visit Turkey, which could have repercussions, including threats to people’s safety.

But the ICHHTO refused to lift the ban until Turkish officials guaranteed the safety of Iranian tourists. On August 13, the Foreign Ministry announced that travel agencies are no longer banned from organizing tours to the neighboring country, following the visit to Turkey by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.