(Persia Digest) – The number of visitors to the holy city of Mashhad, an important pilgrimage destination in northeastern Iran, has increased by 15 to 20 percent per year following the issuance of airport visas by the representative office of the foreign ministry in northern and eastern Iran.

Gholam-Abbas Arbab- Khales, the head of the said office, said: “The biggest number of airport visas issued in Iran belongs to Mashhad.”

He continued: “In 2016, around 75 thousand tourists received visas from our offices. This figure rose to over 83 thousand in 2017, and 98 thousand last year.

He added: “In the months of March and April this year, 19 thousand visas were issued for tourists. If this trend continues, this will bring their numbers to around 115 thousand this year.”

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Arbab-Khales pointed to an increasing number of visitors to Mashhad, saying: “Increased facilities offered by the foreign ministry, e-visas, and the right conditions such as security, an abundance of goods, recreational centers, pilgrimage, hotels, accommodation, hospitals, and healthcare centers have all played a significant part in attracting tourists.”

He said: “Large numbers of visitors arrive in Mashhad from 10 to 15 countries, mostly from Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Iraq, Australia, India, Lebanon, Azarbaijan, Nakhichevan, Turkey, Pakistan, the UAE, Latin American countries, southeastern Asia, and the Far East.

Arbab-Khales added: “Most tourists come for pilgrimage coupled with sightseeing and the use of healthcare facilities.”

Persia Digest (PD) reports that Mashhad is Iran’s second largest city after Tehran and home to Imam Reza’s (AS) Shrine, the 8th Imam of the Shia faith. Over two million foreign tourists visit Mashhad every year.

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