TEHRAN (FNA)- Deputy Head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) Morteza Rahmani Movahed underlined that the number of foreign tourists visiting Iran has considerably increased.
"The number of foreign tourists visiting Iran has increased by 215 percent as compared with last year," Rahmani Movahed said on Tuesday. He noted that most tourists visiting Iran were from Australia, South Korea, Japan, China and New Zealand as well as some European countries. "Iran must increase the number of tourists from 4.5 million in 2013 to 10 million by 2019 under the 2025 Vision plan," he said, adding that ICHHTO also seeks to attract 20 million foreign tourists annually by 2025. Last month, 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 Â