Iran’s government has decided to allow Chinese citizens to travel to Iran without a visa, while Iranians still need a visa to enter China.
Vali Teymouri, a senior tourism official has announced that the decision was made by President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet, and after due process it will be announced officially.
Visa protocol is usually bilateral, whereby two countries reciprocate in asking for visas or allowing free travel for the citizens of their countries. In this case, China has not announced suspension of visa requirement from Iranian citizens.
The issue of abolishing the visa requirement between the two countries has been discussed for the past three years but until now both Chinese and Iranians need visas to visit the other country.
The Iranian government decision comes amid a serious economic crisis and the need to attract foreign currency.
Iranian citizens have a hard time to travel to most countries and the Iranian passport ranks 96 among countries in terms of travel ease.
Before the 1979 revolution, Iranians could travel to most Western countries without a visa and many were also able to obtain U.S. tourist visas.
Iran was also an attractive tourist destination for Westerners before the revolution. Now, despite a lot of talk by the Iranian government, the tourism industry is way behind countries such as Turkey or Greece.
Some visiting Westerners have been arrested and sentenced to long prison terms on dubious charges without a fair trial.