x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Holiday 'disrespect' prompts Iran travel ban

Iran has banned travel agencies from organising tours to countries where concerts are held during Shiite mourning holidays.

Iran has banned travel agencies from organising tours to countries where concerts are held during Shiite mourning holidays, newspapers have quoted a tourism official as saying. The move came after Iran's tourism organisation banned package holidays to Dubai where concerts by expat Iranian singers were to be held this month during a long holiday including the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammed. "It is forbidden to organise tours to countries where concerts are held on mourning days and (those marking) the passing of imams when Islamic moral codes are disrespected in these concerts," the deputy tourism chief Reza Mousavi said.

Mr Mousavi said his organisation would penalise travel agencies which had organised tours to Dubai during Iran's February 13-15 holidays, Tehran Emrouz newspaper reported. He said a ban was also ordered on tours to Iran's northern neighbour Armenia in this period but later lifted after officials learned that "concerts had been cancelled". A travel agent confirmed to AFP receiving a directive ordering the ban only a few days before the holiday and had cancelled several tours.

However, Mr Mousavi said individual trips to countries in question would not be a problem. Every year scores of US-based Iranian pop singers, who are banned from performing in Iran, travel to Dubai for concerts drawing thousands of fans from the Islamic republic. Malaysia has also become a popular destination for such performers in recent years as it has a large Iranian student community. *AFP