Sunday, July 19, 2015

You won’t want to miss the Hezbollah gift shop!
Iran is bracing for a “tsunami of tourists” as an outgrowth of the nuclear deal reached this week with the United States and other world powers, according to the Islamic Republic’s state-run media.
“No other industry in Iran will see a bigger boost than tourism,” Iran tourism chief Masoud Soltanifar said.
There are plans to abolish visa requirements for some foreign travelers, build hundreds of hotels and boost investment in the tourism business, which now accounts for only about 2 percent of Iran’s economy.
“The news about the nuclear agreement and lifting of economic sanctions has delighted our tourism industry,” Soltanifar told The Guardian newspaper.
Iran’s high hopes even apply to citizens of “The Great Satan.” In fact, it’s easier for an American to travel to Iran than to Cuba — where tourism is still technically banned by the US government.
But travelers beware.
Americans “may be subject to harassment or arrest,” according to the US State Department.
Specifically, you should avoid hiking around the Kurdish northwest, or the southeastern region, “where Westerners have been victims of criminal gangs”; criticizing the government; converting to one of the country’s oppressed minority religions; and any large public gathering, the State Department suggests.
Still interested? Then there’s plenty to see.
After all, the Iranian city of Shiraz once housed some of the earliest and finest wine makers — though you won’t find a drop with a government ban on alcohol.
And after touring the storied architecture of Esfahan and ruins of Persepolis, stop by the shuttered US Embassy in Tehran — now a gallery of anti-American art.
Friday would have been a particularly good day for American tourists to get a sense of the country’s hard-line politics.
Hundreds of people attending the morning prayer service at Tehran University broke into chants of “Death to America!”
There are some US travel companies that handle group tours through Iran’s ancient cities, but mostly for non-Americans.
US citizens made up only 14 percent of the 25 “Iran Adventure” tours arranged by California-based Intrepid Travel in the 2013-2014 season, a spokesman said.
Iran also requires that American tourists be accompanied by an Iranian chaperone or certified tour group 24/7.

src: nypost

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