Iran’s New President Hopes for Increased Tourism

The New York Times reported earlier this week that Iran is looking at ways to increase tourism.

“At the top of the agenda of Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, is fixing the country’s crumbling economy, and promoting international tourism is part of his solution 

Mr. Rouhani wants the number of foreign visitors to more than double, to 10 million from 4 million, each year, according to a report last month in The Washington Post. Such an increase, The Post reported Mr. Rouhani as saying, would “create jobs for 4 million people, solving the problem of 3.5 million unemployed people in this country.”

Sanctions placed by Western national have put pressure on Rouhani to bring foreign money into his country. Rouhani’s efforts are applauded by Iranian tour operators. Hamid R. Tavassoli, founder of Iranian Tours, a Tehran-based agency that runs guided trips to cities like Yazd and Shiraz, believes the Iranian culture, nature, hospitality and infrastructure very well deserves a much larger number of tourists to visit the country.

Iran is home to 16 UNESCO sites, which makes it a prime candidate for tourism.
From the UNESCO Site
Matthew from Live and Let’s Fly visit the Iranian island of Kish in 2011. His trip can be read here, here, here, herehere, and here. From the pictures that he took of the his visit, Kish looks like an amazing to visit. The old school attractions transport you to a different time. However, Matthew’s visit does not go smoothly. From getting airline tickets to Kish to immigration to trying to leave, the story is a great example of the dangers of traveling to a country with no American diplomatic relations.
The State Department still recommends Americans be cautious in traveling to Iran. The State Department Travel warning, dated May 24, 2013, states

“Some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States. As a result, U.S. citizens may be subject to harassment or arrest while traveling or residing in Iran. Since 2009, Iranian authorities have prevented the departure, in some cases for several months, of a number of Iranian-American citizens, including journalists and academics, who traveled to Iran for personal or professional reasons. Iranian authorities also have unjustly detained or imprisoned U.S. citizens on various charges, including espionage and posing a threat to national security. U.S. citizens of Iranian origin should consider the risk of being targeted by authorities before planning travel to Iran”

If you decided to travel to Iran, you need to be prepared to fend for yourself if you get in trouble. The United States does not have a diplomatic mission in Iran; instead, the Swiss kindly step in to help out Americans in trouble. However, the Swiss ‘s support only goes so far.

Iran’s new President’s goal of increase international tourism is laudable. However, I won’t be going to visit anytime soon. The dangers of traveling to Iran are to great for me, as a Jewish American. No amazing destination is worth me putting my life in danger.

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JD Teitelman


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