American citizens currently face no ban or obstacle for travelling to Iran and can apply for a visa without a problem, the president of Iran Tour Operators’ Association said.
Ebrahim Pourfaraj also told ISNA on Monday that visas are issued for American nationals like before with no extra requirements. In fact, things have even gotten easier.
“Visas are now issued in two weeks, down from one month,” he said. “This is great for American tourists.”
Since taking office in January, US President Donald Trump has tried repeatedly to impose a travel ban on citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran. Tehran temporarily banned Americans from visiting Iran in retaliation, but lifted it after a week when the US travel ban was struck down by federal judges.
Trump has taken his travel ban case to the US Supreme Court after it failed to garner support in courts across the country. Despite the uncertainty, American travel agencies have not cancelled their Iran tours. Pourfaraj, who has guided four groups of American tourists (totaling about 90 people) since March, stressed that lack of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Washington, D.C. has not affected the number of American travelers visiting Iran.
“The US president’s executive orders have not had a noticeable impact on how Americans and Europeans see Iran,” he said. He asserted, however, that political commands at that particular time naturally affected those who had not scheduled their Iran itinerary, but there is no such problem today.
Iran has seen an 11.5% increase in American visitors year-on-year as of September 2016, according to the US National Travel and Tourism Office’s latest data.
However, US citizens remain one of the smallest groups of foreigners entering the country, as restrictions deter many Americans from coming. Tehran’s government stipulates that citizens of the United States, Canada and Britain must apply for group visas at Iranian embassies in their respective countries.
Restrictions on American tourists are more stringent, as they must have a certified tour guide accompanying them on their travels, which deter many from coming.
Demographically, a significant proportion of American and Western European tour groups heading to Iran are retirees and purchase their trips as part of package tours.