Visa Waiver for 28 States Denied

Visa Waiver for  28 States DeniedVisa Waiver for  28 States Denied

A Foreign Ministry official denied pursuing plans to waive visa requirements with 28 countries.

Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization announced plans last week to make reciprocal visa-waiver arrangements with 28 as yet unnamed countries.

Speaking to reporters, Masoud Soltanifar, head of ICHHTO, said his organization has targeted 40 countries to promote Iranian tourism and stressed that it is “exploring diplomatic avenues with 28 of those countries to initiate visa reciprocity”, the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.

  Not in the Loop

However, Gholamreza Golhassani, director of Visa Affairs Office, said the Foreign Ministry “is not in the loop”.

He said issuing reciprocal and non-reciprocal visas and setting their duration are only possible after discussions with the states concerned, noting that nobody has contacted the ministry regarding the plan to issue visa waivers to 28 countries.

Iran waived visa requirements for citizens of seven countries in July: Azerbaijan, Syria, Turkey, Georgia, Bolivia, Egypt and Lebanon. These citizens can enter Iran as long as they have a valid passport and not facing any legal prohibition.

The period of stay depends on the agreements between Iran and the traveler’s country.

Iran issues airport visa to citizens of all, except 10 countries: Colombia, Somalia, Britain, Canada, USA, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  Not a Priority

The organization announced the plan without going into details: Which 28 countries have been prioritized? How were they selected?

The fact that ICHHTO has not expounded on the proposed plan and failed to coordinate this arrangement with the Foreign Ministry indicates ICHHTO’s failure in observing due process.

Ultimately, the ministry is responsible for negotiating such arrangements and issuing the directive related to visa waiver.  

What’s more, foreign travel agencies organizing package tours to Iran do not have much trouble acquiring visas for their clients, because of the agreements they have in place with the embassy or consulate concerned.

These agencies consider underdeveloped infrastructure to be a more pressing issue than easing or waiving visa requirements.

Even though tour operators concede that waiving visas will boost the country’s profile among foreign tourists, they emphasize that there are more important problems that need to be tackled first.

Many foreigner travelers forego the convenience of package tours in favor of the freedom of independent travel. Therefore, offering visa waivers will not only ease the travel of such tourists, but will also further improve the country’s image as a safe and convenient destination for tourists.

However, ICHHTO should pursue the proposal through proper channels to materialize the visa waivers.