Traveling as a tourist/visitor to Iran with a proper visa and following their rules is completely safe. Thousands of Western tourists visit Iran every year without incident.
Iran issues tourist visas to Americans and citizens of all other countries, other than Israel. While visiting, you are assigned a guide/minder, who both helps as any other guide would, and also enforces the regulations as to where you are allowed to go and what you are allowed to do.
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Americans don't need any special permission from the U.S. government to travel to Iran. You cannot enter Iran on any passport with an Israeli stamp. The U.S. State Department issues American citizens a second passport for travels in the Middle East to any of the countries that also have that restriction.
Americans and U.K. citizens are always accompanied by a guide/minder, who enforces what is and is not allowed to visit and who is generally very accommodating. Despite restrictions, visitors still have access to much more than a tightly controlled itinerary. We met and interacted with hundreds of people in the street and markets who asked us questions and talked with us about politics and a wide range of topics.
Once while walking in the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, an older man approached me and asked where I was from. When I told him I am from the United States, he immediately gave me a huge hug and exclaimed, "America, we've been waiting for you for 30 years!" Governments of each country have political differences, but Americans do not experience that on the ground and are warmly welcomed. Revolutionary Guard at airport immigration, on seeing a U.S. passport, said "Welcome and God Bless You." We were not even allowed to pay in many shops.
—By Dick Simon is a serial entrepreneur and real estate developer, and co-founder and chair of the YPO Peace Action Network (PAN), engaging over 23,000 business leaders in 130 countries, utilizing their unique expertise, relationships and resources to make a difference globally. Simon is also a member of the CNBC-YPO Chief Executive Network.
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