Iran's treasures are currently off-limits (Photo: Lyn Hughes)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising travellers to stay away from Iran.

On Saturday night the FCO upgraded its official advice, warning
against ‘all but essential travel’ to the entire country. It is the
first change to the FCO’s overall advice since Iran was plunged into
turmoil following disputed elections on 12 June. Mass demonstrations in
Tehran over the weekend claimed at least ten lives, and the situation
in the capital remains highly volatile.

Tour operators contacted by Wanderlust were not taking bookings for
the immediate future. Cox & Kings has two tailor-made groups
currently in Yazd, but no further departures planned until September.
Iran specialist Kootch Adventure Travel has no clients currently in the
country. “We have had interest over the last few weeks, but we have
said we’re not going to risk it,” said Iranian-born MD Alí Hendessí.

Tourism to Iran has been soaring in recent years, with the Iranian
government reporting twice as many visitors in 2007 as in 2004. Many UK
operators were increasing their tours to the country, which boasts
unrivalled historical sites, varied landscapes and – in Mount Damavand
– Asia’s highest volcano.

The peak seasons for travel are spring and autumn, and operators
will be monitoring the political situation ahead of September

In the short term, a general strike is one possible result of
continuing unrest, according to Hendessí. “There are already reports of
fuel shortages, and if the oil workers strike, the logistics of travel
would become a nightmare,” he warned.