The number of Iranians visiting Russia has doubled, thanks to relaxed visa procedures.
Tehran and Moscow eased visa regulations in February, which has reportedly helped boost the number of Iranian tourists in Russia, according to Yevgeny Ivanov, head of the consular department at the Russian Foreign Ministry. In 2015, roughly 40,000 Iranians were granted visa to Russia, whereas in the first 10 months of 2016 that number has doubled, he told Iranian news agency Tasnim.
Tehran and Moscow have been growing closer in the past several years, and establishing travel and trade ties with Russia is a stated policy of Iran. Russia is said to be a top five target market for Iran’s tourism authority, and abolishing the visa regime is a goal that officials in both countries are working toward.
Advanced negotiations are being held to waive visa requirements for organised tours, with formal talks on total visa waiver set to be held next year officials say. Russia is the world’s ninth largest outbound travel market in terms of expenditure, and Iranian authorities hope to be able to tap into the market to help them reach their goal of $25 billion in annual tourism revenue by 2025.
It is unclear how many Russians have visited Iran so far in 2016, but that is hardly surprising given that data collection and reporting has always been one of Iran’s weak points.