Ban on Turkey Tours Remains in Place

Ban on Turkey Tours Remains in PlaceBan on Turkey Tours Remains in Place

Iran’s ban on tours to Turkey is still in place and will remain so until security conditions improve and political stability returns to the neighboring country, according to a senior official at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

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.

On Monday, Turkish Consul General in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Province, Mehmet Dogan, said at a press conference that his office “has learned that the ban on tours has been lifted”.

However, Vali Teymouri, director of the Assessment and Monitoring of Tourism Services Office at ICHHTO, dismissed the claim.

“It’s not true … The ban is still in place and nothing has been said about lifting it,” he told Financial Tribune on the phone on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, a member of the Association of Air Transport and Tourist Agencies of Iran said the ban has inflicted “losses worth billions of rials” to travel agencies.

Hormatollah Rafiei was also quoted as saying by ILNA that tour operators were bleeding money because nobody knows what is happening, “since there is no official order from the government that the tours are banned, so there is confusion”.

He continued: “We had a meeting two weeks ago with representatives of ICHHTO and the Iran Civil Aviation Organization, and it was agreed that they would issue an official directive banning tours to Turkey within 48 hours, but they never did.”

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Teymouri denies those assertions, telling Financial Tribune that the directive was issued “a day after the failed coup attempt took place in Turkey”.

“We understand the plight of travel agencies and that they have to pay their employees’ salaries,” he said. “We hope to be in a position to lift the ban soon.”

However, Rafiei is not optimistic, telling ILNA that he expects the ban to last at least until the end of summer.

Turkey has declared an unprecedented three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of the failed coup, in a move seen by the international community as a sign of major security issues in the country.

Nevertheless, Turkish Ambassador in Tehran Riza Hakan Tekin has implored Iranian officials to lift the ban on tours, insisting that the state of emergency “is to ensure there is no repeat of the coup attempt”.

In response, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi said last week travel agencies will be able to resume operations once the conditions in Turkey “return to normal”.

“The two countries have always had close ties and recent incidents in Turkey will not change that,” he said.

“There is no doubt that once the situation in Turkey is resolved and everything is back to normal, Iranians eager to travel to the neighboring state will be able to do so without a problem.”

Organizing tours to Turkey is illegal and so far one travel agency in Tehran has lost its license for ignoring the ban, IRNA reported.

The number of foreigners visiting Turkey plummeted more than 40% in June, official data show, marking the biggest drop in at least 22 years.

Some economists have forecast that tourism revenue-a pillar of the Turkish economy-could drop by a quarter this year, costing around $7.9 billion, according to the Independent.