Source: The HAND Foundation
The number of international travelers in Iran has been steadily increasing, up from 2.2 million people in 2009 to 3.6 million in 2011. During the first half of 2014 travel increased 215%, in what government officials have called a “tsunami of tourists.”
European tourists visiting the ancient Persepolis close to Shiraz in October 2014
As diplomatic relations between Iran and the West warm up after 35 years, western travelers are increasingly interested in exploring Iran once again. Though travel to Iran was never banned after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, travel stagnated at that time, as it was difficult to obtain visas and Iran became dangerous in popular perception. However, with the election of moderate president Hasan Rouhani in June 2013, there is once again a possibility of normalized relations between Iran, the European Union and the United States. In turn, western travelers are curious again, and international media have named Iran as a top tourist destination for 2014.
In addition to individual tourists, universities such as Stanford are now offering academic tours and exchanges with Iran. Other schools are making plans for the future.
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