Starting from Monday, tourists from 28 countries will be able to visit Iran without needing to obtain a visa as the Persian Gulf country looks to revive its tourism industry.
The countries whose citizens are exempted from visas for traveling to Iran include Japan, Brazil, India, Mexico, Peru, Indonesia, Singapore, Cuba, Tunisia and Tanzania.
In line with the Ebrahim Raisi government’s “neighborhood-friendly” policy, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and some Central Asian countries are also included in the list announced by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
Last year, Iran restored its diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia after seven years following marathon negotiations between the arch-foes mediated by Iraq, Oman and China.
Tehran has also buried the hatchet with the UAE and Kuwait and has been engaged in hectic diplomacy to revive ties with Bahrain.
The list also indicates Iran’s inclination to strengthen both diplomatic and cultural ties with countries in Latin America, South Asia and Central Asia, say experts.
Earlier this week, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs Ali-Reza Bigdeli confirmed that nationals from 28 countries will be granted visa-free entry into Iran.
The visa waiver applies to tourists traveling to Iran by air, not through land border crossings, the official announced.
Bigdeli said in statements cited by the state-run news agency IRNA that the ministry has notified all relevant bodies of the Cabinet order regarding this unilateral decision.
Indian nationals can travel to Iran without obtaining a visa provided they come by air, but they would need a visa if they travel by road, he added.
Last month, Tourism Minister Ezzatollah Zarghami said the decision to grant visa waivers aimed at reviving the country’s tourism sector.
It comes as Iran has already given visa-free entry to nationals from Türkiye, Oman, Azerbaijan, Armenia, China, Lebanon and Syria.
After the outbreak of coronavirus in early 2020, Iran’s sanctions-battered tourism industry was hit hard, as tourist footfall plunged dramatically.
However, since mid-2023, the industry has seen signs of recovery, according to official statistics, but officials are looking at other incentives, including visa waivers, to attract foreign tourists.__The Nation