TEHRAN: Iran halted package tours to neighboring Turkey, the country’s top tourist destination, on Saturday in the face of persistent uncertainty after an abortive coup attempt, state media reported.
Authorities also announced plans to fly home the estimated 10,000 Iranian holidaymakers currently in Turkey.
The country is one of the few that Iranians can visit without the need for a visa and nearly 1.6 million visited in 2014.
Those numbers have fallen sharply in the face of intensifying violence in the region but Turkey remains by far Iran’s leading holiday destination.
“In the light of the force majeure situation… tour operators are required to avoid registering and sending tourists to Turkish destinations until peace and security are restored,” Iran’s tourism organization said.
As Turkish airports reopened following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pre-dawn announcement of victory over discontented army officers who mounted a bloody attempt to overthrow him, Iran’s civil aviation authority said it would organize special flights to bring nationals home.
Iran and Turkey support opposing sides in the five-year civil war in Syria but have maintained civil relations despite their differences.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed strong support for Erdogan tweeting: “Turkish people’s brave defense of democracy and their elected government proves that coups have no place in our region and are doomed to fail.” AFP