Tehran, Ankara Eager to Normalize Tourism Ties

Iran has repeated calls for Turkish law enforcement to change its attitude toward Iranian nationals
Turkey is the fifth most visited country in the world.Turkey is the fifth most visited country in the world.
In order to ease into the resumption of tours to Turkey, travel agencies have reduced tour capacities by half

Iran has told Turkey that it must strive to uphold the rights of Iranian tourists and make efforts to ensure their safety.

In a meeting on Wednesday between Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, and Turkey’s Ambassador in Tehran Riza Hakan Tekin, the Iranian official praised longstanding ties between the neighboring states and emphasized that the organization has always worked toward strengthening these bonds.

“Given the unrest in Turkey and factoring in the similarities in our cultures and history, the ICHHTO, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, has tried to maintain Iran’s bond with Turkey,” he was quoted as saying by the local media.

Iran lifted the month-long ban on tours to the neighboring country last week after a trip to Turkey on Friday by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The ban was placed following an attempt by a faction of the Turkish military to topple the country’s ruling party on July 15, which did little to allay tourists’ security concerns in the world’s fifth most visited country.

Movahed said the ban “revealed problems in contracts signed between Iranian tour operators and Turkish parties (such as hotels and airlines),” which must now be resolved.

He said travel agencies have incurred losses worth €7-8 million since March for cancelling tours because travelers feared for their safety and opted out of Turkey trips.

“We want the minister of culture and tourism (Nabi Avci) to issue orders to ensure Iranian tour operators are compensated and the problems related to the contracts have been amended,” he said.

Movahed also repeated calls for Turkish law enforcement to change its attitude toward Iranian nationals, as an increasing number of tourists traveling by land and air to Turkey have complained about the unacceptable attitude and rude behavior of Turkish security officials at border crossings and airports.

“If the problems are addressed, it’ll reduce financial losses and encourage more people to travel,” he said.

  Turkey “a Step Ahead”

Ambassador Tekin assured Movahed that Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism as well as TURSAB (association of Turkish travel agencies) “are a step ahead” in ensuring Iranian tour operators are compensated.

“I will also use my resources as an ambassador to make sure the problem is resolved,” he added.

Tekin said tourism is an economic driver for Turkey and Ankara has “always prioritized tourists’ safety above all else”.

“We’ll do our best to create a safe environment for travelers and treat Iranians with the respect they deserve,” he added.

In order to ease the resumption of tours to Turkey, Iranian travel agencies have reduced tour capacities by half until the end of the Iranian month of Shahrivar (September 21).

Although it was announced last week that tour prices would remain unchanged, ISNA reports that tours to the southern coasts of Turkey are going for as high as 87 million rials ($2,485).