Australia lowers Iran travel warning

KONFRONTASI-Australia has just lowered its travel warning for Iran - potentially putting a trip to the Islamic Republic on a holiday bucket list for keen travelers, the country’s media reported on Tuesday.

Previously, Australians had been told to "reconsider their need to travel" to Iran, but the warning has now been lowered to "exercise a high degree of caution".

The decision will be seen as a further sign of warming ties between the West and Iran after the landmark nuclear deal struck this year, reported the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

The official travel advice from the Foreign Affairs department was changed on Monday and still cautions Australians in Iran not to travel to border areas with Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A spokeswoman said the lowering of the level of advice reflected the official assessment of the current safety and security environment in Iran.

"As with all travel, we recommend Australians subscribe to the country travel advice, register their travel, and purchase appropriate travel insurance," the spokeswoman said.

Iran has been a holiday destination - especially the picturesque central city of Isfahan - but "ongoing regional tensions" had meant people were officially counseled to reconsider travelling since 2012, the second-highest level after "do not travel", the Herald report added.

This comes as Iran has been identified by global travel journals as among the world’s top tourist destination.

The Belgian website La Libre identified Iran as one of the countries with most tourist attractions after surveying specialized publications such as National Geographic, Lonely Planet and Afar.

The report further pointed to a list of must-see sites in the country, including 19 special locations registered on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). [mr/ptv]