Iran Visa: On the basis of Iran law and regulations in tourism industry, each legal or actual entity has to have essential authorizations from Foreign Ministry and Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of IRAN to ask for visa reference number. Moreover, for some nationalities like Americans, more authorizations are needed, too. There is an itinerary which is called Persia`s classic tour. It almost always starts from Teheran then goes to Kashan and continues toward Yazd, Shiraz and normally finishes in Isfahan; in where peaceful nuclear energy sites of this country are located. It means the high-lighted cultural heritage sites of Persia are located near to sites in where Iran is following its undisputable nuclear program. Desert or Kavir is another point here; the region that most tourists are interested in.
These attractions, dessert and sites, receive many inbound tours through whole the world such as American ones. The matter is that Guardian Council of Iran believes there are some spies among tours who enter to the country as tourist. This organization who is in charge of sites protection says that through experience has found this bitter reality. It says; to safeguard the sites against espionage and acts of sabotage the incoming tours should be highly under scrutiny. The background of relations between USA and IRAN has made this control a bit more difficult on American tourists. This monitoring starts from the first step of their journey, which is visa collecting process.
As above information, clearly tourist visa issuing process for US citizens, besides mentioned organizations` controls, is also monitored by Guardian Council. When there is a journey request to Iran behalf an American or a group of them, the Iranian receptive agency should render it to an office in tourism department which is called coordination office. Like its title, it makes and observes all the processes from visa issuing till entrance and then exit of the country. By this method they are informed that which agency is going to welcome the American tourist(s). Of course, the IRAN MFA asks for the office`s confirmation; then it begins to survey visa issuing process. The consulate department of MFA then surveys the tourists’ information in details; they also do the same surveys on agency and even the guide who is going to stay with the group. It means there are some confirmed guides who can take this nationality on tour. The process of issuing the reference number is somehow long.
The strangest point, the authorized agencies able to handle these tours are around thirty (30) and others cannot activate in this field easily. If there were an agency that has made a market to have these tourists, it has to coordinate with those apples eyes agencies. To do the affairs independently, the agency should submit its requests to the office; the Guardian Council normally does not agree with the agency`s activation in this field and refers it to those chosen ones. There is no index to be a member or among these crème de la crème ones!
Finally, this strenuous process is up to Guardian Council`s office. Their criteria to allow others working with American tourists are almost vague because there are no clarified indexes. It absolutely reminds those barriers that exist in Iran tourism industry; those ones that has made it scraggy without decent experts. The MFA, Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization have in fact no chance to break this barrier. It does not include just Americans rather Canadians and British tourists visa issuing process is like this.
Consequently, tourist visa issuing process for these three nationalities is as follow;
First, tourist(s) asks the Iranian receptive agency to take a reference number for him,
Next, if the agency were authorized one, declares it to Guardian Council`s office located in Tourism Dep.; if not authorized, asks authorized one`s aid or demands the office directly (if the agency had worked a lot in the field of incoming tours, the office may accept),
Then, the guide, chosen one again, the accommodation, the itinerary or let’s say all relevant information in detail is offered submitting to the office,
After, they survey on the base of their own criteria, MFA consulate is permitted to observe the visa issuing process,
Now, MFA surveys it again in detail and if it agreed, issues the reference number,
Last, agency receives the number and declares it to dear tourist(s); so, tourist(s) can go and collect their visa from Iran consulate bureau that they have already declared while filling the request form in.
Last but not least, we hopefully look to hearing good news from the new government about making the visa collecting process more easy. It will allow the green days for Iran tourism industry, help two countries and their people know each other more, aftermath provides equilibrium situation for all agencies in Persia to work in tourism inbound tours, of course under monitoring.