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Beaches normally packed with tourists are now deserted as security fears keep travelers away.
Beaches normally packed with tourists are now deserted as security fears keep travelers away.

Iran to Pursue Turkey’s Ill-Treatment of Tourists

An increasing number of tourists traveling by land and air to Turkey have long complained about the unacceptable attitude of Turkish security officials at border crossings and airports
Tourism officials of both countries will most likely meet this month in Tabriz

Iran to Pursue Turkey’s Ill-Treatment of Tourists

Iran’s top tourism official said addressing Turkey’s mistreatment of Iranian tourists is a high priority and key to normalizing ties with the neighboring country.

Speaking to ISNA, Masoud Soltanifar, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, said his office has made the long-running saga of Iranian tourists receiving suboptimal services at hotels and being mistreated by Turkish law enforcement at airports the focal point of upcoming discussions with Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

After an attempted coup last month to topple Turkey’s ruling party, which followed months of unrest caused by terrorist attacks carried out by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, Iran banned tours to Turkey to keep its citizens safe.

Tehran lifted the ban earlier this month after a visit to Turkey by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, after Turkish officials reassured Iran’s top diplomat that the country is safe.

However, insiders say the ban has allowed Iran to leverage its position as a top source country for tourists to Turkey and Ankara’s stated willingness to expand tourism ties with Iran to help address problems that have long plagued Iranian travelers.

“We’ve long known about the problems facing our citizens in Turkey and have earlier voiced our dismay,” Soltanifar said.

“During the month-long ban, we had the opportunity to review the activities of Iranian tour operators accused of providing poor quality services on their tours to Turkey and suspended the licenses of 15 travel agencies.”

Soltanifar, who doubles as a vice president, said he will discuss the ill-treatment of Iranians in Turkey with Nabi Avci, minister of culture and tourism, when he travels to Tabriz in northwestern Iran to attend the Asia Cooperation Dialogue Ministerial Meeting on Tourism on August 29-30.

“He has promised to attend the summit and we’ve agreed to have a one-on-one meeting while he’s here,” he said, adding that if Avci does not make it to Iran, the organization will send a high-ranking delegation to Turkey.

  Boycott Campaign

Iranian officials have only recently taken notice of people’s complaints and criticism of Turkish authorities. For years, tourists pleaded for help from the officials, but it was not until a people-driven campaign calling for a boycott of travel to Turkey gained momentum in 2015 that the authorities took notice.

The campaign cited Turkey’s alleged support for IS, also known as Daesh, as well as the mistreatment of Iranians at the hands of Turkish authorities as the reasons behind the boycott.

The movement made an impact, as travel to Turkey during the Norouz holidays (March 20–April 1) dropped by 10%, piling on the misery for Turkey’s ailing tourism industry that has been rocked by a series of bombings in the past few months prompting even the country’s allies, including the US, to issue travel warnings.

An increasing number of tourists traveling by land and air to Turkey have long complained about the unacceptable attitude and rude behavior of Turkish security officials at border crossings and airports.

Last year, Iranian passengers traveling from Tehran to Oslo missed their connecting flight in Istanbul because the Turkish airline took off after an eight-hour delay. Despite receiving assurances from the airline officials that they would soon board a plane to the Norwegian capital after arriving in Istanbul, it was revealed that the passenger had to wait for three days to board the next plane, according to Mehr News Agency.

This caused the passengers to protest at an Istanbul airport before plainclothes security personnel at the airport—who reportedly failed to identify themselves as law enforcement—attacked the passengers, many of whom were young women.

 

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