How safe is international travel for US Citizens?
Did international travel just became a lot more dangerous in 2020. The U.S. assassination of an Iranian official today in Baghdad means an immediate red flag for tourism worldwide, and specifically in Iran, the Gulf region and Israel. A war between Iran and the United States would change the cards of travel, tourism, transportation, and safe travel tremendously.
Just earlier this year Iran told eTurboNews tourism will be replacing oil revenues. According to Iranian Vice President Ali Asghar Mounesanwha, Americans and Europeans are welcome to Iran. This was echoed in many Facebook messages, press-releases and email campaigns by Iranian tour operators looking for American and European business.
With the assassination of General Soleimani’s, seen as one of the most influential in Iran, the United States and Iran may already be in a state of war. Today’s action most certainly killed travel and tourism relation between the U.S. and Iran. American tourists remaining in Iran may want to consider an immediate departure. “Do not travel to Iran due to the risk of kidnapping, arrest, detention of U.S. citizens.” This is the warning on the U.S. State Department website for anyone considering to go to Iran.
On Friday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani strongly condemned the U.S. attack and said the assassination will make Iran and other free nations more determined to stand against the United States. The leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said today those who assassinated IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani must await harsh revenge.
As of today, U.S. facilities are on high alert anywhere in the world. General travel advisories by the U.S. State Department should be in the immediate pipeline. The pentagon just assured U.S. citizens they would protect their interests anywhere in the world.
The easiest targets when it comes to terrorism are tourists. The world did not become a safer place for American travelers. The world certainly did not become a safer place for the tourism community. It waits to be seen how the big organization UNWTO, WTTC, ETOA, USTOA will be reacting to the new situation our world is facing.
In the last two years, Iran had put plan B together in shifting emphasis on a close relationship with UNWTO, the World Tourism Organization. To keep its tourism industry alive, and to make it grow, the country is turning to its neighbors. Tehran has announced projects to boost infrastructure and ease red tape in an effort to draw more visitors from countries in the region.
Iran added Egypt, Azerbaijan, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Georgia to the list of countries whose nationals can get visas on arrival. Plans are in the works to revive passenger sea lines, including routes between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman.
Plans for a railway that starts in southwestern Iran’s Khuzestan province, going through Iraq and ends at the Syrian port city of Latakia are in the planning. Iran, Iraq, and Syria agreed to work together to develop the system to increase religious tourism. Iran is affordable as a travel destination after the devaluation of its currency, the rial, following sanctions.
Foreign travel to Iran grew to 5.2 million arrivals in 2015, up from 4 million the year before. The number of U.S. tourists reached 5,308 in 2016, up 62% from two years before, according to the World Tourism Organization.
Is regime change in Iran likely? Some see this may be an opportunity for young people in Iran to stand up and take the moment to revolt.
The conspiracy theory on twitter is in full swing. The latest postings summarize: Iran would most likely nuke part of Saudi Arabia and then Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey would nuke Iran. The global travel and tourism industry is not having a good start in 2020 so far.
Today is giving the meaning Peace Through Tourism another importance. Twelve years ago IIPT Founder Louis D’Amore and Juergen Steinmetz, publisher of eTurboNews were able to address Iranian leaders in the Islamic Hall of the People on Peace Through Tourism. Today the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center should be on stand by watching this latest development.
Safertourism president Dr. Peter Tarlow said: Our Rapid Tourism Response team is on stand by.