We Welcome U.S. Tourists
OR two years travel professionals have been consulting
behind the scenes to improve relations between Iran and the
In 2008 Iranian tourism officials organized
the First International Tour Operators Convention (ITOC) in
Tehran and invited guests from 42 countries to visit their
ancient land. Juergen Thomas Steinmetz,
publisher of eTurboNews.com, brought a media group of 20
people, including myself.
As the first westerner allowed to speak at
the Islamic hall of government office, Steinmetz declared,
"I am convinced that peace through tourism is possible."
Steinmetz met with Esfandiar Rahim
Mashayi, then vice president of Iran and president
of Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization.
Mashayi said that the purpose of tourism is "to help the
people of the world to know each other….We have to love each
other and feel compassion toward each other."
tourism as a strategic matter, of utmost importance to
spread knowledge and friendship among the peoples of the
world. "Darkness and ignorance promotes hatred," but tourism
is "the best, shortest, most effective, most attractive way
to help people know each other."
"The importance of
tourism is related to security, more important than
culture," Mashayi affirmed.
Since then Steinmetz
has succeeded in forging a permanent bond with Hamid
Baghayi, the new chairman of the Iranian Cultural
Heritage and Tourism Organization and vice president of the
Islamic Republic of Iran.
In October 2010 the
American Iran Tourism Association was registered in Tehran,
the first time that an organization there was allowed to
have "American" in its title.
That’s a revolutionary outcome of
Steinmetz’s efforts. For the week I spent in Iran at the
2008 convention I saw banners on street poles and signs on
the wall of the former American embassy proclaiming "Death
Presumably such ugly tokens of hate will
vanish in the name of love and friendship that tourism
To encourage travel to Iran from the United States,
Steinmetz will chair the American chapter of the
International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP).
Hamid Reza Talebi serves as president of the
Esfandiar Rahim Mashawi greets Herve Barre of Unesco
at travel convention
They declared in a press statement that
"they have formed this tourism partnership based on the
premise and the belief that the tourism industry is the key
to peaceful relations and the abatement of conflict between
the U.S. and Iran."
Where statesmen and the United Nations have
failed to reconcile the U.S. and Iran, Steinmetz and Talebi
may well succeed. Talebi assured Americans that their visas
will be processed quickly if they are associated with ICTP.
For more information contact
Thomas@tourismpartners.org or call 808-536-1100.
Inside Noor Mosque
I still have exciting memories of my
attendance at the convention when I explored Tehran, Kish
Island, Shiraz and Isfahan. I found the people extremely
receptive to foreign visitors – especially Americans.