Scottish Daily Mail

Forget Florida and Marbella, Iran’s the new holiday hotspot

- By Richard Marsden

WITH its ban on alcohol and rules ordering women to cover up, it is not the most obvious summer holiday destinatio­n.

But that has not stopped Iran from experienci­ng a surge in tourism from the UK, with bookings at travel agencies up by as much as 400 per cent.

For years, the hardline regime of anti-western former president Mahmoud Ahmadineja­d put off all but the most adventurou­s travellers. But the arrival of football-loving Hassan Rouhani as his successor last year appears to have made the Middle Eastern country seem friendlier.

Jonny Bealby, managing director of Wild Frontiers, which has been organising trips to Iran for ten years, hopes to send up to 150 customers this year, compared with a few dozen in 2013. Mr Bealby said: ‘With the new man in charge and the easing of relations, a lot more people feel safe to go there.’

Sarah Bareham, marketing executive at Brighton-based Responsibl­e Travel, which also organises tours of the country, said: ‘Since January we have had the same number of bookings that we had in the whole of 2013.’

However, government advice remains cautious and the Foreign Office still does not recommend travelling there ‘unless essential’.

A spokesman said: ‘There are risks for British nationals, especially those going off the beaten track. But it’s a matter of choice for individual­s.’

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