People, Travel

Iran on the Irish Radar

Iran on the Irish RadarIran on the Irish Radar

It was once considered out of bounds, but British Airways’ decision to launch direct flights positions Iran as one of the hottest destinations to visit in 2017, according to an article published on the website of the Irish Independent (

“Our data show Iran is already on the radar as the UK’s second most affordable long-haul country to fly to after the UAE,” says Andrew Shelton, managing director at

“Now British Airways is back in Iran, other airlines may follow-Air France relaunched their service in April this year-and flight prices may fall further.”

BA’s Tehran flights will operate daily from London Heathow this winter.

The reopening of the Iranian Embassy in London, lifting of sanctions and the relaxing of travel advisories earlier this year have already resulted in rising bookings.

G Adventures (, which offers a 14-day Discover Persia tour from £1,599/€1,889 (land only), has reported that sales are up 200% year-on-year.

Rachel Wasser, the company’s global product manager, cites “magnificent mosques, diverse history and unrivalled hospitality” as drawcards for the country.

Admittedly, access to Iran is still restricted, making escorted group tours the easiest option for travel. British citizens do require a tour guide, although this does not necessarily have to be one approved by the state (as is the case for Americans).

Meanwhile, Irish visitors are advised to exercise “a high degree of caution” in Iran by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Tourist visas are granted through the Iranian Consulate in Dublin.

Usit ( and Sunway ( are among the Irish tour operators offering travel packages to Iran, with 14-day prices from €1,754.

An agent with the direct-to-local Evaneos travel platform (, Fatemeh, said, “While it is no secret that a number of its neighboring countries are experiencing varying degrees of instability, Iran itself has remained a very safe place and there is no reason why tourists should feel that a trip here poses them any sort of threat.”

Instead, she says the main challenge facing the country is meeting demand for hotel rooms, although increasingly tours are incorporating home stays.

Regent Holidays ( for example, which has been running trips to Tehran for several years, include nights in local houses as part of the 14-day Highlights of northern Iran tour, starting from £3,385/€3,999pp with flights.

In the next 12 months, tourism is set to grow in Iran and chances are more tours and flight routes will soon follow.