Iran Introduces Visa-Free Program to Attract Chinese Visitors

By Tristin Zhang, July 25, 2019

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Chinese nationals can now enter Iran without a visa.

In a Weibo post by the Iranian embassy in Beijing, the country stated, “We believe that the hospitality of the Iranian people and the richness of Persian culture will bring extraordinary experiences to our dear Chinese friends. We look forward to our Chinese friends paying a visit to this Persian dreamland. Welcome to Iran!”

The post was accompanied by Chinese tour group photos at various tourist attractions such as the well-known Gate of Xerxes at the Ancient City of Persepolis.

The announcement was first made on June 30 after the Iranian cabinet passed the law one week prior to allow Chinese tourist to travel visa-free, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. Vali Teymouri, Iran’s deputy director for tourism affairs, told the South China Morning Post that the country wants to host one million Chinese tourists per year in the near future. The travel spike would be a significant increase compared to last year, with approximately 52,000 Chinese tourists visiting the country. 

The visa-free entry allows Chinese citizens to stay in Iran for 21 days. If a Chinese tourist overstays the three-week period, they will be required to apply for a tourist visa, a staff member at the General Consulate of Iran in Guangzhou told That’s.

The visa-free program is a move aimed at boosting Iran’s dwindling economy (The country’s GDP is expected to contract by 6% this year.) Iran’s tourism industry contributed over 7% to the country's GDP in 2017, and could benefit from China, which has the most outbound tourists annually since 2013.

The program is unilateral, however, as Iranian nationals still need a visa to visit the Middle Kingdom. 

As of August 2018, China has bilateral tourist visa waiver agreements – for various stay durations – with 13 countries, including United Arab Emirates, Bosnia–Herzegovina, Serbia, Ecuador, Tonga, Mauritius, Fiji, Bahamas, Seychelles, Barbados, Grenada, San Marino and Belarus. 

READ MORE: China Proposes High-Speed Rail From Xinjiang to Iran

[Cover image via Wikimedia Commons]

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