The UK Foreign Office has lifted its advice for Iran signalling hopes for the country’s tourism industry.In a statement on its website, the FCO said it had lifted its advice for most parts of the country, although it warned that it was continuing to advise against all travel to some border areas and parts of the south-east.It comes after Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said last week that he hoped to reopen the British embassy in Tehran before the end of the year, which was also expected to facilitate leisure visits to the country.
The news followed the historic agreement between Iran and the EU and US, which saw Iran promise to make drastic cuts to its nuclear programme in return for the gradual lifting of sanctions – a move which it was hoped would end the 13-year nuclear standoff.David McGuiness, director of tour operator Travel The Unknown, told TTG he expected the change in the FCO’s advice to have “major implications for its tourist industry”.
“Firstly for UK clients, in terms of insurance (which had previously been somewhat difficult to arrange), and ultimately it will make it easier for people to travel to Iran,” he added.
“On the back of the recent nuclear deal this news is very much welcome as Iran is a very safe destination, and now that diplomatic relations are slowly being restored we feel many more people will take the opportunity to visit this amazing country teeming with historic and archaeological treasures as well as a hospitality that is unparalleled.
“The hope now is that embassies will reopen in full before long – there is plenty of evidence that this is in process – making the visa process simpler too, and then the next step will be hopefully a wider selection of flight options.”McGuiness said tourist numbers for Iran for his company were already up around 1000% compared with 2013.
“We have had a steady flow of clients 2014 to 2015 but that is beginning to increase now, and our Iran enquiries have gone through the roof over the past week (since the deal and the positive media coverage this has generated) so we certainly expect to fill more tours, and to have more people do private and tailormade itineraries in the latter part of 2015 and into 2016,” he said.