Iran will stop issuing paper visas in favor of electronic ones for all countries by May 2018, said Hassan Qashqavi, the deputy foreign minister for consular affairs.
“We will definitely terminate granting paper visas …,” he vowed late on Wednesday in an address to a meeting attended by a number of cultural officials, lawmakers, as well as tour operators and travel associates from state and private sectors.
Other speakers to the event touched upon the impact of the value added tax on tourism sector and ways to develop its marketing and infrastructure, ISNA reported.
MP Shahabeddin Bimeqdar criticized both the administration and the parliament for not allocating adequate funds for “advertising” tourism potentials of the country.
“International [tourism] companies accuse us of deception and abuse of state regulations to enforce this tax.”
“We only like to pay for cement, bricks, and rebar beams not for advertising,” Bimeqdar said, adding: “Unfortunately, we only overtalk about tourism and have no operational plan.”
Head of Iranian Tour Operators Association Ebrahim Pourfaraj, for his part, reminded attendees of the need for an immediate elimination of the value added tax, already levied on tourism services. He also highlighted its “serious threat” to the budding sector.
“International [tourism] companies accuse us of deception and abuse of state regulations to enforce this tax,” he explained.
Pourfaraj also warned policymakers about the threat of 166 travel agencies that had vowed to stop organizing tours to Iran if the tax is not abolished.
For the time being, citizens of about 190 countries can obtain visas on arrival at the country’s airports with one-month validation.
Filled from corner to corner with ancient bazaars, museums, mosques, monuments, gardens, historical sites, Iran hosts some of the world’s oldest cultural monuments, including 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its varied terrain ranges from desert locales to ski resorts.