TEHRAN: Iran announced Wednesday that it will waive visa fees for spectators of the 2022 World Cup finals, as it hopes to attract some of the football fans flocking to nearby Qatar.
“The cabinet agreed to make visas free for spectators of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar who wish to visit Iran,” tweeted the spokesman of the Iranian government, Ali Bahadori-Jahromi.
“This decision aims to encourage tourists to visit Iran during the World Cup and boost the tourism industry there,” he added.
This comes after Qatari Transport Minister Jassim bin Saif al-Sulaiti on Sunday and Monday visited Iran’s Kish island and signed six cooperation agreements, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.
Kish, a 92 square kilometre (35 square mile) resort island with white sand beaches, is a 40-minute flight or six-hour boat ride from Doha.
“The Qataris are very interested in using Iran’s infrastructure in the 2022 World Cup,” Iran’s Transport Minister Rostam Ghassemi said Tuesday. “Iran must use all the capabilities it has to benefit from this event,” he added.
Key among the agreements was a deal to increase flights between the countries, rising from 72 at present to potentially as many as 200 a day, said Mohammad Mohammadi, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation.
The Qatari transport minister visited the passenger terminal of Kish International Airport, which is under construction, as well as the commercial and passenger port, IRNA added.
“Iran’s contribution to the World Cup will be in the areas of air and sea transport and accommodation of foreign and Iranian passengers,” Ghassemi said.
“We also plan to offer foreign fans and tourists during their stay in Iran the opportunity to visit the country’s tourist gems.”
To encourage travel, Iran’s tourism ministry had said earlier that visas could be waived for inbound visitors from Qatar during the two months of World Cup.
Visitors could apply for free single or multi-entry passes for 20 days during that period, the ministry said.
In January, Iran qualified for the World Cup finals, the third in a row and their sixth overall.
Iran, who have never advanced beyond the group stage, will face arch foe the United States and England in Group ‘B’.