Iran is planning to expand air and sea travel as it eases visa rules during the upcoming World Cup.
Tehran, Iran – Iran has reached a number of deals with Qatar as it hopes to host fans of the men’s soccer World Cup to be held in the neighboring country later this year.
Qatar’s transport minister, Jassim bin Saif al-Sulaiti, was hosted by Iranian road minister Rostam Ghasemi during a two-day visit to the tourist island of Kish. Al-Sulaiti also met with Saeed Mohammad, the head of the Organization of Free Trade Zones of Iran.
On Monday, the two countries signed an operation agreement to link the Doha Flight Information Region (FIR) with the Tehran FIR, the Qatar news agency reported. They also agreed to increase the number of flights between them and discussed strengthening cooperation on transport and private investment opportunities in the port sector.
The Iranians hope that the increased cooperation will facilitate the stay of fans on Kish Island, which is a 40-minute flight or six-hour boat ride from Doha, as well as enhancing the boat routes and flights that would take fans on and off. back at regular intervals.
Although Kish is the main target, Iranian authorities also hope to be able to use other islands and cities in the southern province of Hormozgan to welcome fans.
They also wish to potentially extend some of the measures beyond the World Cup, which kicks off in November, in order to increase tourism and travel ties between the two countries, but the details are not yet clear.
Ghasemi said he expected hundreds of thousands of World Cup fans to stay in Iran.
“We are now planning to create the ground for foreign fans and tourists to travel to Iran during their free time to visit our country’s attractions as well,” said the Iranian Minister of Roads.
Stays in Iran are likely to be much cheaper for foreign visitors than those in Qatar, in part due to the beatings suffered by the Iranian rial as a result of US sanctions in recent years.
Iranian authorities hope that fans staying in Kish and traveling back and forth during the World Cup can benefit the country’s tourism sector, which has been significantly affected in recent years by the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and sanctions. .
Mohammad Mohammadi, the head of the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization, said there are now 72 daily flights between Iran and Qatar. That number, he said, could have increased to 100 flights a day.
Mohammadi also said that Iran could facilitate the transfer of goods between the two countries during the World Cup period.
Iran is also looking to employ new cruise ships to facilitate sea travel to Qatar. Deputy Road Minister Ali Akbar Safaei has promised that several new cruise lines will be activated by Eid al-Fitr in May.
To encourage and facilitate more travel, Iran should also waive the visas required for visitors arriving from Qatar.
Leila Azhdari, who heads the foreign tourism department at the Iranian ministry of tourism, said the foreign ministry agreed to waive visas for travel from Qatar for two months during the World Cup, which ends on December 18. .
Visitors, he said, can apply for free single- or multiple-entry passes for 20-day stays during those two months, the exact dates of which will be announced later.