November 2, 2014

JUST ANOTHER COUNTRY:

Iranians hope for tourism rebirth (SIAVOSH GHAZI, November 2, 2014, Times of Israel)

Although decades of sanctions mean the hotels and infrastructure are not five star, a tentative political thaw with the West is drawing visitors to Iranian attractions steeped in myth and rumor.

Persepolis, a jewel of the first Persian empire whose palace and terraces took more than 100 years to build, starting under Darius the Great in 518 BC, is one of the highlights.

"Before coming to Iran I knew the vision of this country from the outside was very dark," says Piotr Chwalba, from Poland, finally looking at Persepolis after thinking for years of visiting.

"A place like Iran has two sides -- the one created by the media and the other version, the truth, where everyone helps you when you travel and everyone smiles at you. It's great."

Sincere as such testimony is, a rise in visitors has more to do with politics than praise. The prospects for tour operators were bleak until recently.

The election last year of President Hassan Rouhani and his decision to restart negotiations with the United States and other leading nations about Iran's nuclear program has been a catalyst.

Posted by at November 2, 2014 7:29 AM
  

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