Iran – the next tourism hot spot?

By | Category: Travel news
Karaj with a view of Alborz Mountain © Mohammed Reza Amirinia

Karaj with a view of Alborz Mountain © Mohammed Reza Amirinia

At the weekend the British embassy re-opened in Iran’s capital, Teheran. As relations between and Iran return to a more solid footing does this mean that tour operators will soon be luring us to travel there?

Reza has written stories about Iran for Just about Travel pointing out a few of the places that Iranians visit on their breaks such as the Shah’s Palace in Niavaran, the house of Imam Khomeini in Jamaran and the Alborz Mountains. Will our tour operators open up those same areas for us or seek others?

Any country that manages to offer the possibility of skiing in winter up in the mountains and water cum beach resorts down on the Persian Gulf would seem to be starting off with a tourism bonus being able to offer winter and summer breaks. It isn’t as though a number of us don’t visit the country each year. Although political relations have been cool for a few years, Iran has been present at the big tourism shows in Berlin and London urging us to visit and we have responded in ever increasing – albeit small – numbers.

Most of us have never thought of Iran as a beach or skiing destination preferring to concentrate on the rich culture and heritage of the country. Existing tour operators taking Brits to Iran will take you to any number of the 19 UNESCO world heritage sites that the country possesses. Iran received two more designated UNESCO sites just a month ago – the ancient city of Susa which goes back to Sumerian times more than 6,000 years ago and the village of Meymand which might date back 12,000 years.

Some hope that Iran with its heritage might have some influence on fundamentalist Islamists such as IS and put pressure on them to re-think their belief in sacking heritage sites. The news, last week, that the head of the archaeological site at Palmyra, Khaled al-Asaad, in Syria was beheaded caused an outcry. This was followed by news that either this weekend or a month ago, depending on which source you read, the temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra was blown up. So far this year, Mosul, Nimrud and Hatra have all been destroyed to some extent by IS.

Maybe Iran has enough influence so that it can persuade IS that heritage sites bring money to a community, jobs for locals and a security for their future children. That might be the best legacy in opening up Iran to further widespread tourism.

 

 

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