Russia says visa waiver for Iranian tourists to take effect soon

Moscow, Oct 16, IRNA – Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that visa waiver for Iranian tourist groups will take effect in the near future.

Speaking at a weekly press conference on Thursday, Maria Zakharova in response to IRNA reporter said that Iran and Russia have signed agreement on visa waiver for tourist groups on March 27, 2017.

"Visa waiver for tourist groups will take effect after Russian tourist agency determine an Iranian partner to regulate carrying out the agreement," she said, noting that the agreement was signed by the Iranian and Russian foreign ministers during the visit of Mohammad Javad Zarif to Moscow on March 27, 2017.

She said that as per the agreement, tourist groups including five to 50 people are allowed to visit Russia for 15 days.

We believe that the time to implement the agreement is not appropriate for the time being due to the epidemic in Russia and Iran and the restrictions of the coronavirus.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin inked a visa-free agreement for tourist groups.

Last February, Iran’s tourism ministry announced that it would follow up the agreement at the [27th edition] Moscow International Travel & Tourism Exhibition (MITT), which was held from March 17 to 19.

Based on the 2017 agreement tour groups of 5 to 50 people heading to [easternmost parts of] Russia from Iran or vice versa are granted a visa-free stay of up to 15 days.

Maya Lomidze, executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, had told Sputnik that the visa agreement may significantly surge the tourist flows between the two countries, just like it happened when a similar deal was signed between Russia and China. The flow of Iranian tourists to Russia increased by 50-70 percent following the operation of direct flights that connect Iran to St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Sochi, she said.

Head of the Iranian Tour Operators Association Ibrahim Pourfaraj said last year that a majority of potential Russian travelers are unaware of vast tourist attractions that exist in every corner of Iran.

“The fact is that Iran’s political and economic relations with Russia are considered as good, but this has nothing to do with attracting tourists because the Russian tourists need to make up their minds to come to Iran for tourism,” he said.

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