With its ancient ruins, glittering mosques and spectacular landscapes, Iran is home to some of the world's cultural treasures, but ever since the 1979 revolution, these have largely remained unseen by international tourists... Now, however, the new administration of Hassan Rouhani is taking steps to open up Iran to foreigners in an effort to improve its international image after the gloomy years under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – and to bring in much-needed foreign currency to an economy reeling from years of sanctions...
Chinese tourists are a priority. "World figures show that China sends more tourists to visit other countries than anywhere else," Najafi said. "With help from our embassy in China, we have spoken to Chinese tourism officials and we have invited a number of them to come to Iran."..
Brandon Stanton, an American citizen who travelled to Iran last year, attracted attention on returning home by posting an itinerary, along with pictures of Iran, on the Human of New York photo blog.
"Americans are especially loved," he wrote with astonishment. "This was noted in every travel account that I read, and I can confirm the fact. You will be smiled at, waved at, invited to meals, and asked to deliver personal messages to Jennifer Lopez. American music, movies, and media are thoroughly consumed by the people of Iran."
Amos Chapple, a photographer from New Zealand who has visited Iran on a number of times, said the Iran he saw was utterly different from the one represented in the west. "Every traveller I met felt the same way: they had arrived expecting hostility and danger, but ended up amongst the most cosmopolitan and generous people in the Middle East," he said.
"Having visited three times it's just heartbreaking to see what damage the sanctions are doing to ordinary people who have nothing but goodwill towards America."