Despite the passage of a Visa Waiver bill in the US Congress which was later signed into law by President Barack Obama, Iran and its attractions have remained the envy of several regional countries.
The US bill that prevents visa-free travel to the United States for people who have visited Iran or hold Iranian nationality has done little to dissuade travelers from wanting to make a trip to the safe and beautiful country, and attempts to delist Iran from the world’s best tourist destinations have led nowhere.
The following is part of a CNN report on where tourists can go in 2016. What you read below are the lead and the Iran section of Cable News Network’s Top 16 up-and-coming destinations available here.
The best stories arise from the road less traveled.
As new routes launch, developing nations welcome tourism and closed-off regions emerge.
So what’s hot in 2016?
We asked an expert panel of pros who thrive and survive on travel to new frontiers.
Nowhere stirs the imagination quite like Iran.
Go skiing or hit the beach, explore exquisite mosques, markets and madrassas, hear classic Persian poetry and eat spiced cuisine to the scent of water pipes.
Romantic fabled cities Shiraz and Esfahan are interspersed with rural mud villages, across semi-nomadic terrain.
Travelers regularly remark on the disparity between Iran’s image and the hospitality of locals.
Nineteen UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as former imperial capital Persepolis fill the ancient land. Lut Desert is now being considered as a new addition to the list.
Visitor numbers are growing exponentially, with Iranian officials predicting 20 million tourists by 2025.
The easing of diplomatic relations is resulting in more flight routes, while travel insurance and visas are getting easier to obtain. The landmark reopening of the British Embassy this year is also significant.
“With the British FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] recently relaxing its advice, this great treasure trove has become more accessible, with key areas of interest now deemed safe to travel,” says Jenny Hand of Cox & Kings.
When To Go: March to May and September to November.