ISNA news agency said on Monday that the idea for removing passport requirements for tourism travel between Iran and Turkey had been raised during a virtual meeting between tourism officials of the two countries held a day earlier.
Iran’s Tourism Ministry said that the agreement could create “a balance in tourism exchanges” between Iran and Turkey, reported presstv.com.
The proposal comes as Turkey, a country highly dependent on tourism sector revenues, is struggling to maintain flows of travelers into the country at a time of lower demand for visits that has been caused by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Iranians are responsible for a major part of tourism visits to Turkey while Turkish tourism arrivals into Iran are lower in comparison.
Iranian tourists spend an average of $693 on each visit to Turkey, higher than tourists from Sweden, The Netherlands and even Russia, according to Turkish government figures released last year.
Property purchase in Turkey by Iranians increased to its highest level over the summer despite restrictions imposed on travel because of the pandemic.
Iran and Turkey have maintained a visa-free travel regime for citizens since 1964. Travelling without passport would mean that tourists would be able to cross the borders only using their national identification cards.
Deputy Minister of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Vali Teymouri said it was agreed during the videoconference meeting with the Turkish side on Sunday that authorities from the two countries pursue the idea of passport-free travel as a special case.