Iran wants tourists


The Caspian Sea in Iran.

Matt DeGraff, Staff Writer

Since the election of Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran in Nov. 2013, Iran has stepped up efforts to increase their tourism industry.

So far, Rouhani’s administration has claimed success, saying that tourism is up 30 percent from a year ago.  The administration is now attempting to double its annual number of visitors to 10 million.

Iran is a country with beautiful scenery and lots of culture, so it should be a popular tourist destination.  It is not, however, because it is not viewed as a safe place to visit, especially for an American.

Sophomore Camron Dennler said, “I visited Iran in the summer of 2011. The scenery was very beautiful, we drove through  a canyon, swam in the Caspian Sea, and fished in the ocean.”

Dennler also said, “I never felt threatened, I was with my mom and grandparents.  I only saw armed guards once on the side of a highway.”

But it is hard to access Iran as there are no direct flights between the U.S. and Iran. The last direct one took off in 1979.  The flights stopped after Iranian students took over the U.S. embassy.  Now, travelers from the U.S. must connect through Istanbul and need a special visa to access Iran.  The State Department has even issued a warning that “elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States” and “U.S. citizens may be subject to harassment or arrest while traveling or residing in Iran.”

This has not stopped sophomores Colley Loum and Brandon Lee from wanting to travel to Iran.

Lee said, “If I could get the chance I would go.  It seems like a nice place with an interesting history.”

Loum said, “I would like to go there for two reasons, I would like to see the country as a tourist and also to experience their culture.”

This culture is very different from that of the U.S. As Dennler said, “At the beach I went to, there was a tarp exended 50 yards out into the ocean to divide the beach into two parts, one for men, and one for women.”

Yet, Iran is a country with a tourism industry on the rise, and so it might eventually become a more accessible country for those in the U.S..