Travel Agents Call for Lifting Ban on Turkey Tours

Travel Agents Call for  Lifting Ban on Turkey ToursTravel Agents Call for  Lifting Ban on Turkey Tours

The ban on tours to Turkey has apparently put significant financial pressure on Iranian tour operators that rely heavily on organizing trips to Turkey, prompting travel agents to call for the lifting of the ban.

In a letter on Monday to Masoud Soltanifar, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, Gholamreza Abazari, chairman of the board of Tehran Tour and Travel Agencies Association, urged the swift lifting of the ban and warned that failure to do so could bankrupt tour operators.

“Travel agencies risk losing the money they’ve invested in organizing tours, such as money paid to hotels and airlines … This could lead to bankruptcy,” Abazari said in the letter cited by Mehr News Agency.

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.

Tour operators say they have incurred over 180 billion rials ($5.1 million) in losses as a result of the ban.

Abazari also warned that the ban will provide a platform for “opportunists” to organize substandard tours for people eager to visit Turkey, which could have severe repercussions, such as uncontrolled exit of foreign currency and threats to people’s safety.

“If it remains unresolved for too long, the protracted ban could lead to discontent,” he concluded, without elaborating further.

  Ban in Place

Iranian officials have reiterated that the ban will remain in place until security conditions improve and political stability returns to the neighboring country.

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.

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”.

“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,” Qasemi said.

Organizing tours to Turkey is not only banned, but also 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 revenues-a pillar of the Turkish economy-could drop by a quarter this year, costing around $7.9 billion, according to the Independent.

The ban is expected to last until the end of summer or until Turkey downgrades its state of emergency.