Baku, Azerbaijan, March 30
By Fatih Karimov - Trend:
Iran will start issuing electronic visas for foreign tourists by the end of 2016, Masoud Soltanifar, Iran's vice-president said.
Soltanifar, who heads Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, added that Tehran also pursues the issue of mutual visa waiver with certain countries, to promote tourism sector, IRNA news agency reported March 30.
He did not unveil the names of countries with which Iran plans to eliminate the visa, but said that boosting the country's tourism sector is a priority for the Iranian administration.
The Islamic Republic, currently issues 30-day visas for citizens of 190 countries upon arrival in its airports which can be extended for another 15 days, the Iranian official added.
He also said that Iran needs to attract foreign investment to develop its tourism sector.
According to Soltanifar, Iran stands as world's 36th country for tourism revenue with an annual income of $7.5 to $8 billion.
The country should increase the share of tourism income from 0.5 percent to two percent of the country's total revenues by 2021, based on the 20-year economic development plan.
Some 3.8 million of foreign tourists visited Iran, bringing $1.11 billion worth of income to the country in 2012. The figure stood at 4.77 million in 2013, 24.4 percent more year on year.
The foreign tourists were mainly from India, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.