Visa-free borders of Iran and the first tourists in North Korea

Iran is introducing visa-free entry for citizens of 33 countries, including Russia. Western countries were not included. The decision coincided with the deterioration of Iran’s relations with the West due to attacks by rebel groups linked to that country. It is intended to stimulate tourism and counteract the world’s growing aversion to Iran. In addition to attracting tourists, the activities aim to support the economy suffering from sanctions and isolation, especially after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement. It is also influenced by the deliveries to Russia of Iranian drones used in attacks on Ukraine. Despite a 48 per cent increase in tourist numbers, the relatively nearby conflict between Israel and Hamas may deter travellers.

97 Russian tourists came to North Korea. According to the Russian news agency TASS, the group flew to Pyongyang for a private tour. These were the first visitors since the borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, North Korea was the first country to completely isolate itself from the world, not even allowing its citizens to return to the country. It restricted trade and raised fears of food shortages. North Korea only opened its borders in August last year, after almost four years. The trip of Russian tourists coincided with Moscow and Pyongyang’s commitment to strengthen economic and military cooperation. In 2023, Kim Jong Un visited Russia – which doesn’t happen often – and this week, Vladimir Putin presented the North Korean leader with a luxury car.

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