People, Travel

Tehran to Host Visa Waiver Talks With Moscow

Tehran to Host Visa Waiver Talks With MoscowTehran to Host Visa Waiver Talks With Moscow

Official talks on visa-free travel between Iran and Russia for groups will begin next month, according to Russia's Federal Agency for Tourism.

Quoting a statement published on the agency's official website, IRNA reported that formal talks will begin on November 22 in Tehran.

Efforts to ease travel between the two countries follow a three-phase plan devised a year ago. The first phase, which calls for mutual relaxation of visa procedures for people active in trade, science and tourism sectors, went into effect in February. Waiving visa requirements for tours organized by travel agencies is the second phase of the scheme.

The implementation of total visa-free travel is the third and final phase of the plan, for which formal talks will be held next year.

According to Rosstat (Russia’s state statistics service), nearly 35,000 Iranians visited Russia in 2015, which marks a rise of more than 115% compared to a year ago. Russia expects about 70,000 Iranians to visit this year.

Iran is said to be a top 20 tourism source market for Moscow.

According to Oleg Safonov, the head of Russia's Federal Agency for Tourism, a third of Russia's 30 million outbound tourists travel to visit historical sites and learn about various cultures, making them a prime target for Iran.

The Russian official has reportedly advised Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization to open a tourism information office in Russia and urged those active in Iran’s nascent travel sector to cooperate with the Russian media to promote Iran’s sites of attraction.

Russia opened a "Visit Russia" office in Tehran in February.

Recep Safarov, who headed a Russian economic delegation to Mazandaran Province in July, was quoted as saying by ISNA that there is a “lack of effective campaigning and advertising in Russian media” to promote Iran as a destination.

“Russians have to learn about Iran and what it has to offer,” he said.

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