Russia, Iran to Open Tourism Offices

Russia, Iran to Open Tourism Offices

Iran and Russia have agreed to set up what they call “tourism development offices” in the two states in an attempt to expand tourism ties.
Tourism relations between the two countries was one of the topics of discussion during the 12th session of Iran-Russia Cooperation Commission in Moscow (November 10-12), jointly chaired by Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi and Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak.
“The final draft of agreements between Iran and Russia explicitly outlines measures to expand tourism ties,” Samiollah Hosseini Makarem, the development deputy at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, told IRNA.
Makarem said the discussions aimed to boost the number of tourists traveling between the two states and hoped that the agreements “will help achieve that goal.”

  Seizing the Opportunity
Iran’s share of Russia’s whopping 45-million outbound travel market is a meager 20,000 people — or 0.04% — while in 2014, Turkey attracted around 4.5 million Russians, making Russia the largest contributor to Turkey’s tourism sector.
However, the number of Russians traveling to Turkey has been on the decline in 2015, due to a variety of factors such as Russia’s economic woes, the Turkish government’s struggle with Kurdish rebels, the so-called Islamic State militants, and differences over key foreign policy issues between the Kremlin and Ankara.
The Russian Federal Tourism Agency warned against all non-essential travel to Turkey following the explosion of an IS-planted bomb in Suruc in July that killed at least 30 people.
Turkey’s tourism sector has been hit in general this year, with the industry posting revenue losses in every quarter so far this year.
Whereas Turkey’s tourism has faced setbacks, Iran’s travel industry has been enjoying a slow but steady growth over the past two years.

In addition to a plethora of natural, historical and cultural attractions, Iran’s affordability can be used to lure Russian tourists whose country is reeling from crippling western sanctions in relation to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
“Russians are known for their love of travel, and the majority of their outbound tourists are middle-age individuals with a penchant for history, which is why over 2 million Russians visit Egypt every year,” Makarem said.
He pointed to the geographical and political proximity of the two countries and said strengthening economic ties can pave the way for the expansion of tourism relations.
Russians, along with a host of other nationals, are issued visa-on-arrival at Iran’s international airports, a measure taken by the Rouhani administration to facilitate travel and lift the hospitality industry.
“We’re also going to be discussing the possibility of waiving visa requirements for Russians traveling to Iran on a package holiday, as part of a group,” Makarem said.
Russia is believed to be among the list of 40 countries targeted by the ICHHTO in which to promote Iranian tourism. Other countries include Armenia, China and India.
The two sides have also pledged to raise annual bilateral trade to $40 billion based on a roadmap devised after talks among 60 representatives from Iran’s public and private sectors and their Russian counterparts.


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