That question has been on the minds of many intrepid travelers, whose desire to visit this friendly and fascinating country is tempered by concerns over personal safety. Over the past few years in particular, the region surrounding Iran has been a hotbed of political and revolutionary turmoil; graphic images on television and elsewhere do little to quell the concern.
Yet as recent news events have sadly shown, isolated tragedies can happen anywhere. So for those adventurers whose wanderlust is stronger than their just hesitation, the answer to whether it is safe to travel to Iran is a resounding yes!
“Iranian people have an absolutely positive view about tourists, especially Americans,” says Saeid Haji Hadi, a tour operator located in Tehran. “Hospitality is legendary in Iran. In my 24 years of experience in the industry, I have not seen one problem. Foreign tourists are absolutely safe and secure.”
To be sure, the number of foreign tourists has been skyrocketing. In the last year alone, travel to Iran has increased 96 percent, according to Dr. Masood Soltanifar, vice president and head of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization in Iran. Soltanifar noted that the number of Americans visiting Iran is rising, as well.
One reason so many people are traveling to Iran is because it displays what Hadi calls “a different mentality” than other Arab-Muslim countries. “What you see in the region today happened 36 years ago here,” he says. “Now we are in the phase of building and development. Considering all the countries in the region, Iran is the most stable one. The level of security is very high. We all simply follow our normal daily life.”
(A piece of sound Iran travel advice: While it is not dangerous to visit independently, the knowledge of a local guide can prove invaluable and is highly recommended.)
To allay any remaining doubt as to whether it is safe to travel to Iran, Hadi states unequivocally: “I feel very comfortable and am very clear telling travelers this: Everything is OK.” He adds, “The people here really love the American people.”
In the end, that appreciation for different cultures and each other is what travel—and, many would say life—is all about.