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Iran Preparing For 'Tsunami' Of Tourists

Iran's vice president says his country is preparing for a "tsunami" of foreign tourists after a historic nuclear deal that will lift sanctions on the country is implemented in the coming months.

Masud Soltanifar, who also serves as Iran's cultural heritage, handicrafts, and tourism minister, told AP in an October 18 interview that President Hassan Rohani's moderate policies and the easing of visa rules help bring more tourists to Iran.

Iran -- which is home to 19 UNESCO-listed sites -- will soon unveil an investment package to attract foreign investment and boost tourism, which has suffered under international sanctions.

Iranian officials said tourism has already grown more than 12 percent both in 2013 and 2014, when some 5 million tourists visited.

Soltanifar said about half of the tourists were Shi'ite Muslims, the same religion as the majority of Iranians.

The U.S. State Department warns Americans to "carefully consider the risks of travel to Iran" and says people with dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship are particularly likely to experience problems.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been convicted on charges including espionage and at least three other Iranian-Americans are being held or are missing in Iran.

Based on reporting by AP