In a meeting with the Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection, and Climate Change Aziz Abdukhakimov,, the Iranian Minister of Tourism Zarghami signaled that Iran welcomes arranging a visa waiver deal between the two countries.
Zarghami said in Samarkand that preliminary work to develop tourism ties has been carried out by the two countries “and we in Iran are seeking ways to abolish [tourist] visas between the two countries.”
Referring to his recent visit to Bukhara, he said: “When I visited Bukhara, I felt how close the two nations are. We support the arrival of Uzbek tourists to Iran, and we also believe that Iranian tourists who plan to travel abroad should prioritize Uzbekistan…”
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian minister attached importance to helping facilitate overland travels, saying: “With Turkmenistan’s cooperation, we should facilitate overland travels to help promote tourism.”
Abdukhakimov, for his part, expressed his hope that their discussions at the meeting would yield “good results” in the future.
On Oct. 15, Zarghami arrived in Uzbekistan to join the 25th session of the World Tourism Organization’s general assembly, arranged to be held in Samarkand on October 18 and 19.
During his five-day visit, the Iranian minister held talks with sector leaders from various countries to discuss issues, challenges, and opportunities related to tourism.
The Islamic Republic is considering a border-easing policy based on which it may unilaterally drop visa requirements for passport holders of 60 states, according to Zarghami’s deputy for tourism.
“The proposal to waive visa requirements with 60 countries is made by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts and is currently under consideration by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant authorities,” Ali-Asghar Shalbafian said earlier this year.
Based on the latest United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer, foreign tourist arrivals in Iran reached some 2.93 million between January and July 2023.
The average statistics of Iran’s tourism from January to August 2023 is 50% lower than the same period in 2019 based on the barometer that tracks the sector’s post-pandemic recovery throughout 2023 up to the end of July.
Another statistic compiled by Iran’s tourism ministry indicates the country saw 3.35 million tourist arrivals in the first half of the current Iranian calendar year (started March 21), which soars 38 percent year on year.
Iran's tourism industry aims to increase its share in the world's market, expecting to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 27 are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.