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Iran to resume issuing tourist visas soon: Minister

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows foreign tourists visiting Iran.

An Iranian government minister says the country will resume issuing tourism visas soon as it seeks to end a 19-month suspension caused by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourism minister Ezzatollah Zarghami said on Tuesday that visas for foreign tourists will be available probably next month as Iran moves to gradually lift pandemic-related restrictions on entry.

“Resumption of issuing tourism visas is going through the final phases of how it will be implemented in an expert committee,” wrote Zarghami in a Farsi post on his Twitter page.

The minister said foreign arrivals are expected to surge significantly after removing visa restrictions, adding that tourists had expressed high levels of satisfaction from their trip to Iran before the pandemic hit the country in February 2019.

Reports say Iranian President Ebrahim Raiesi has personally endorsed a decision to restore tourist visas as his government moves to ease restrictions imposed on the economy after a successful ramp-up in vaccinations against the coronavirus.

Nearly 60 million coronavirus vaccines have been dispensed in Iran, a country of 84 million where over 17 million people have been fully vaccinated against the disease.

Iran has seen higher rates of tourist arrivals in recent years as the country keeps encouraging more investment in the sector in a bid to create more jobs and access new sources of hard currency revenues.

The Iranian government has also cancelled visa requirements for nationals from tourist sending countries like China to further boost the arrivals.  

Zarghanmi, a former culture minister and national broadcaster chief, said in his Tuesday tweet that Iran’s tourism sector will continue to boom despite an incessant Iranophobia campaign in the West.

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