MISCELLANEOUS

Iran removes visa requirements for 33 countries, including India

Iran has made a significant move to boost tourism and promote international goodwill by removing visa requirements for visitors from India and 32 other countries. This decision makes Iran the fourth country, following Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, to eliminate visa requirements for Indian travelers.

The announcement was made by Iran's Tourism Minister, Ezzatollah Zarghami, who expressed the goal of attracting more visitors globally and countering negative perceptions through tourism initiatives. The visa-waiver program now includes 33 countries, such as Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Mauritius, Seychelles, Japan, Bosnia, Tanzania, and Vietnam.

Iran has previously implemented visa-waiver programs for various countries, including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Oman, China, Armenia, Lebanon, and Syria. The recent statistics reflect the success of these efforts, with a notable 48.5% increase in foreign arrivals during the first eight months of the current Iranian year, reaching 4.4 million visitors.

Minister Zarghami emphasized the broader goal of countering Iranophobia campaigns and creating a more welcoming environment for travelers during a press briefing following a cabinet meeting. The expansion of the visa-waiver program aligns with Iran's dedication to growing its tourism industry and tapping into diverse tourist demographics, including the rapidly growing outbound tourism market in India.

This move underscores Iran's commitment to facilitating travel, fostering cultural exchange, and positioning itself as a more accessible and inviting destination for international visitors. Beyond supporting the tourism industry, the initiative contributes to dispelling negative perceptions, promoting cultural understanding, and fostering economic growth through increased tourist arrivals.

The Ministry of Tourism asserts that adopting an open-door policy reflects Iran's commitment to fostering connections with diverse nations worldwide," as reported by ISNA.

Iran's recent move to eliminate visa requirements for Saudi Arabia is indicative of improving relations between the two nations. Both governments have agreed to initiate formal discussions regarding the resumption of regular direct flights between Tehran and Riyadh. The re-establishment of diplomatic relations in March, mediated by China, marked a significant thaw in tensions, leading to the reopening of embassies in both countries.

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