TEHRAN (FNA)- Head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) Massoud Soltanifar vowed to do his organization's best to pave the ground for attracting more tourists to the country's holy shrines.
Soltanifar said that Iran is to accelerate visa issuance for foreign tourists, especially for the religious ones, within the next two or three years. He called for encouraging foreign tourists to visit religious cities, including Mashhad, Qom, Shiraz, Mashhad Ardehal and Shahr-e Rey. He went on to say that nearly 2.1 million religious tourists visited Iran last year, 1.6 million of whom were from Iraq and 500,000 others came from the Persian Gulf countries. "We are trying to increase this number to 5 million in the next few years," the official added. The official noted that religious tourism would lead to cultural exchanges, job creation and bringing in foreign exchange revenue. Iran has taken part in several international tourism fairs such as the Caucasian international tourism fair in Georgia in 2011 and the 2012 Borsa International Tourism Exchange (BIT) in Italy to better introduce the country's tourist attractions. Â Â Â