News ID: 131992
Published: 0226 GMT November 30, 2015

Iran, Iraq to balance tourist arrivals

Iran, Iraq to balance tourist arrivals

Many Iranians have embarked on a religious tour to Iraq since days ago to take part in special ceremonies marking the 40th day after Ashoura — the 10th day of the lunar month of Muharram when Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam, and his 72 companions were martyred in an unequal battle.


Iraq is also sending the largest numbers of tourists to Iran compared to any other nations.

Iraqis account for two million of the total of five million foreign tourists visiting Iran annually.

Although, Iran is sending much more tourists to Iraq than receiving, the two nations are almost earning an equal sum from tourist exchange.

One reason is that Iranian pilgrims are offered services by Iranian tourism agencies operating in Iraq. Therefore, Iran is still benefitting from tourists visiting Iraq, as a major share of money generated by Iranian pilgrims is repatriated to the country.

On the other hand, Iranians have to spend huge sums to ensure the security of Iranians in Iraq, which creates a balance between revenues and expenses.

Important borders

Mehran, in the western province of Ilam, is a border city.

The head of Ilam Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department, Abdolmalek Shanbezadeh, said every day, 2,000 tourists cross Mehran border crossing to enter or leave Iran.

"Mehran has been identified as one of the highly-frequented borders checkpoints," he said.

He said steps have been taken to offer high-quality services to travelers in the past decades. However, shortcomings still remain, he added.

Shalamcheh is another border city of Iran, which has witnessed a 32-percent increase in the number of arrivals from Iraq in the past seven months, compared with the figures for the corresponding period last year.

Tourists usually enter Iran via Shalamcheh without difficulties.

However, pilgrims entering or leaving the country during religious holidays may encounter problems, which can be prevented through planning.

According to experts, Iraqi and Iranian tourists who arrange trips through travel agencies usually encounter fewer problems.

Iraq is Iran's largest tourism market. Almost two million Iraqis choose Iran as their ideal destination either for religious intentions or for seeking medical treatments.

Iran needs to improve tourism facilities on its borders to gain greater satisfaction of passengers. The more satisfied the tourists are, the more money will be brought into the country.

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