Iranian Kish to grant visa-free entry to World Cup spectators
TEHRAN — Kish will exempt Qatar World Cup spectators from needing an entry visa to visit Iran’s southern island in a bid to support tourism and the national economy.
The visa-free travel was announced on Friday when Tehran and Doha signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to expand aviation collaboration.
The two countries discussed ways to further deepen ties related to tourism, cultural heritage and handicrafts by taking advantage of the opportunity of the World Cup in Qatar.
Earlier this year, Iranian Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Ezzatollah Zarghami and Qatari Minister of Culture and Sports Abdulrahman bin Hamad bin Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani met in Tehran , exchanging their views on how to facilitate tourism during this major event.
Zarghami says the country must seize the huge opportunity to showcase the country to international spectators of the major event. “A significant number of travellers, mainly young people, would arrive in Qatar to attend the World Cup… This provides us with an exceptional opportunity to properly present the country’s tourist attractions.
“Over the past few months, we have been preparing plans to attract participants to the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup football championship,” Zarghami said. “Most importantly, our [southern] islands and free zones [in the Persian Gulf] are ready to welcome foreign spectators because they are attractive and affordable destinations.
Many people are interested in visiting Iran for its historical attractions and ecotourism, to name a few, Zarghami said.
His tourism deputy, Ali-Asghar Shalbafian, said the historic event would give Iran a chance to curb so-called anti-Iranian sentiments known as Iranophobia. “The World Cup in Qatar offers a unique opportunity to introduce destinations close to the host country, and we should use this opportunity to confront Iranophobia.”
To make good use of this opportunity, it is necessary to develop consensus among relevant agencies, and if this does not happen, it will be detrimental to the country, Shalbafian explained.
Iran’s geographical position and unique tourist attractions make it a potential destination for World Cup spectators, the official added. “Therefore, proper policy development and management in collaboration with the private sector can pave the way for widespread use of this event.”
Moreover, the head of the Kish Hoteliers Association announced that the island is ready to welcome Qatar World Cup spectators as well as participating teams. “Kish’s proximity to Qatar and the lower cost of staying on this island allows spectators and teams to stay here during the World Cup.”
Experts believe Iran would achieve a rebound in tourism after the coronavirus disease is brought under control, saying its impact would be temporary and short-lived for a country that has ranked as the third fastest growing tourist destination. fast in 2019.
Iran’s tour operator chief Ebrahim Pourfaraj believes the World Cup should be a turning point in Iran’s tourism industry. “By attracting World Cup spectators to Iran, Iran’s tourism industry could secure a better future.” It is also necessary for the southern Iranian islands of Kish and Qeshm to reaffirm the capacity of their accommodation centers to receive foreign travellers, he noted.
The Islamic Republic expects to benefit from its many tourist sites such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, public baths, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers and mansions, of which 26 are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Iran football team have become the 14th team to book their place for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Additionally, the ‘Persian Leopards’ have become the first Asian team to book their place in a major competition.