Iran has been deemed as safe as a majority of European countries when it comes to travel security, according to the 2019 Travel Risk Map, launched by global risk experts International SOS in collaboration with Control Risks.
The map shows the risk level in each country and territory based on the current threat posed to travelers by political violence (including terrorism, insurgency, politically motivated unrest and war), social unrest (including sectarian, communal and ethnic violence) and violent and petty crime.
Factors such as the robustness of the transport infrastructure, the state of industrial relations, the effectiveness of the security and emergency services and the country’s susceptibility to natural disasters are also taken into consideration, the Independent reported.
A low travel security risk means violent crime rates are low; racial, sectarian or political violence or civil unrest is uncommon; security and emergency services are effective; infrastructure is sound; and industrial action and transport disruption are infrequent
The map lists five categories of risk: insignificant, low, medium, high and extreme.
Very few countries manage to make it into the “insignificant” bracket. In Europe, only Luxembourg, Denmark, Slovenia, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Greenland have been placed in this category.
A majority of European countries are deemed low risk, including the UK, as are Iran, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Uzbekistan. Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand are all low risk, too.
According to International SOS, a low travel security risk means violent crime rates are low and racial, sectarian or political violence or civil unrest is uncommon.
“Security and emergency services are effective and infrastructure is sound. Industrial action and transport disruption are infrequent,” the company said in a blurb on its website in reference to "low risk" countries.
“Extreme” risk countries are almost exclusively in Africa and the Middle East, including Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, South Sudan and Somalia.
Neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan are among more than 15 countries that have been labeled "extreme" in terms of security risk to travelers.
The number of foreign tourists travelling to Iran jumped by 51% during the first six months of the current fiscal year (March 21-Sept. 22) despite the fact that returning US sanctions have posed a serious threat to the emerging sector, Ali Asghar Mounesan, the head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, said last month.
The official described the growth as "unprecedented in the past few decades".
ICHHTO figures disclosed on its official website show that a total of 5,113,524 foreign tourists travelled to Iran during the previous Iranian year that ended on March 20, 2018. That figure indicated a year-on-year increase of only 4.33% or 212,440 visitors.
More notably, the first half of last year had actually seen the number of inbound tourists to Iran fall slightly, as 2,619,310 foreign tourists travelled to the country in that period, down from 2,701,859 the year before.
Mounesan predicted that the notable growth in the flow of foreign tourists to Iran will continue through the end of the current Iranian year in March 2019.
The 40th Plenary Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization affiliate members was held in Hamedan, Iran, putting the country's budding tourism sector on the map.
The plenary, running from Nov. 12 to 14, brought hundreds of foreign representatives and the message that the UNWTO supports the tourism sector of a country that was hit with the harshest-ever US sanctions only days before.
At a press conference on the sidelines of the inauguration of the international meeting, the global tourism industry's biggest annual event, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said the organization is ready to assist Iran as a longstanding member.
"We have travelled to Iran to promote Iran as a safe and calm tourism destination and through helping develop tourism in Iran, strengthen it in face of its problems," he said.
"Our presence in Iran means that we invite the people of the world to travel to this country and visit its many tourist attractions to add to the number of tourists visiting the country."
In addition to US sanctions, the Trump administration has imposed travel restrictions that target and hurt Iranians among other nationals. Based on the policies, that became known as the "Muslim Ban" due to the fact that they primarily target Muslim nations, any nationals that have recently travelled to Iran, in addition to several other countries, will find their travels to the US restricted.
To counter the Trump move, Iran launched an initiative that has been fully implemented in recent months. It eliminates the need for passports of foreign nationals travelling to Iran to be stamped, which removes any threat of future complications in the US.
During his press conference, he also pointed out that Hamedan has been chosen as the tourism capital of Asian countries in 2018 for boasting vast potentials to attract visitors.
In recent months, Iranian authorities have redoubled efforts to boost the tourism sector for increasing foreign currency revenues and creating jobs under the current difficult economic conditions.
A sharp declining national currency has meant that travelling to and shopping in Iran are now significantly cheaper for foreigners.
The World Travel and Tourism Council ranked Iran 20th from among 185 countries in its 2017 power ranking, which evaluates countries in terms of absolute size growth measured in US dollars in the field of travel and tourism.// source.financialtribune.com
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