Portuguese tourists are loathe to cancel plans to visit Iran – despite current political tensions, and the fact that a passenger jet was recently ‘mistakenly shot down’, involving the loss of life of every one of the 176 people on board.
Reports Público, “travellers and agencies are between cancelling (trips) and waiting to see (what happens next).
“There are those who refuse to give up on planned holidays and are waiting to set off (for Iran) soon”.
According to travel blogger Filipe Morato Gomes, “politics is one thing, people are another”.
He told the paper’s travel section, “there is a very special Western perception on Iran and great prejudice regarding the Arab world in general.
“In this case, the greater the prejudice of the West, the more Iranians go out of the way to show we’re wrong”.
In Morato Gomes’ opinion “there is no reason whatsoever to avoid Iran” (other of course than avoiding areas where there may be demonstrations).
Travel operator Miguel Judas of Landescape is of a similar opinion, claiming westerners are “bombarded with information that doesn’t correspond to the truth” and creates “an image of the country that has nothing to do with reality”.
Says Público, according to Landescape, “Iran is one of the safest countries to travel to – not because it is a highly-policed state but because the people are naturally hospitable and welcoming and like to receive foreigners”.
The agency goes further, suggesting travellers “will feel safer in Iran than anywhere else in the world”.
This is not the advice of the Portuguese government ‘portal das comunidades’ however , which has advised nationals against travelling to the country following an escalation of tensions as a result of the US attack that killed general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq almost two weeks ago.
Various airlines, including Lufthansa, the Emirates, Flydubai, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines, China Airlines and Malaysia Airlines have also cancelled flight schedules.
Following several days in which the Iranian government said their surface-to-air missiles had nothing to do with the crash of a Ukrainian jet bound for Kiev last week, an announcement was made to the contrary on Satuday, resulting in new demonstrations on the streets of Tehran.