Steps toward improving relations with a neighboring country as well as promotional efforts and close attention to visitors have led to an increase in the number of Iranian tourists coming to Turkey every year.
Having ranked first among Iranian's most preferred countries during public holidays and vacation periods, Turkey is expected to welcome more than 6 million Iranian tourists throughout next year, Farid Javaherzadeh, president of Iranian Scientific Ecotourism, told Anadolu Agency (AA) yesterday.
Iranian tourists vacationing in Turkey have increased hotel occupancy rates in many cities, particularly in the eastern province of Van, to 100%, while their shopping is a lifeline for tradesmen.
Located near the Iranian border, Van is a tourist attraction for its natural wonders and historic monuments. Over the years, it has become a top destination for Iranian tourists, especially during the Iranian national holidays.
Having reached about 5 million Iranian tourists last year thanks to friendly relations, agreements and convenient holiday opportunities, Turkey is expected to see a continuous increase in the arrivals in the years ahead.
Javaherzadeh, who came to Van as part of a fair held in the city, said Turkey is the most important tourist destination for Iranians.
Javaherzadeh stated they want further improvement of relations between the two countries, adding: "Both the fact that Turkey is a Muslim country and the love of the Iranian people for Turkey increase the number of tourists every year. We anticipate that the number of tourists coming to Turkey will increase by 20% and reach 6.2 million by 2020."
Emphasizing that Iranians mostly prefer coastal areas and sea sides in Turkey, he noted that Van is a new destination for Iranians to visit. "Our people do not know much about Van's historical, natural and touristic richness. For this reason, both we and Turkey need to promote Van very well. The more a city is introduced, the more visitors it attracts," he told. Calling on Turks to visit Iran, which attracts interest with its ancient history, Javaherzadeh said they are ready to host Turks and guide them around the country.
40,000 TOURISTS BY RAIL
Mehrdad Naseri, representative of the Raja Railway Transport Company, was cited by AA as saying that the number of tourists will increase thanks to the resumption of Tehran-Ankara and Tehran-Van train services between Iran and Turkey.
Indicating that they aim to bring 40,000 passengers from Iran to Turkey by rail next year, Naseri said: "We had talks with tourism companies in Van. We talked about taking Iranian tourists to other cities. We will have services to Istanbul. There are many beautiful places and many beautiful cities in Turkey. We will bring as many passengers to Turkey as we can in the coming period."
Asedi Ibrahim, an official from the Iranian Tourism Congress, said the bond of friendship and brotherhood between the two countries drive atrract Iranian tourists to Turkey.
Highlighting that they have a historical past like Turkey, Ibrahim noted that when Iranian people come to Turkey, they also visit historical sites. "The tomb of Mawlana is in Konya and the tomb of Shams Tabrizi, a close friend of Mawlana, is in Iran. The friendship of these two important personalities continues with visits between the countries. We want more Iranian tourists to come to Turkey. Persian and English-speaking people are very few here, which challenges tourists a little bit. If we overcome this, more Iranian tourists will come to Turkey."
Emin Aslan, who came to Van with his family from Iran, said Turkey is very beautiful and that they come to Van every year for a holiday. "We love here, Turkey. We shop here and meet our needs. People are very good and pay close attention to us," he said.