People, Travel

Travel Agencies Protest Higher Bank Guarantees

Travel Agencies Protest Higher Bank GuaranteesTravel Agencies Protest Higher Bank Guarantees

Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization  raised the amount of bank guarantee furnished by travel agencies and tour operators to obtain tour licenses.

Previously, the amount guaranteed by a bank was 50 million rials ($1,500), but the organization raised it to 500 million rials ($15,000) – a tenfold increase, ISNA reported.

A bank guarantee is required by ICHHTO to deter fraud and help ensure customer satisfaction.

While most travel agencies seem content with the decision, some are displeased and have voiced dismay. In a letter addressed to President Hassan Rouhani, a group of travel agents argued that a bank guarantee ensures nothing, because violations incur billions of rials in damages.

They said municipalities, mosques and the Ministry of Education, among others, organize and conduct tours without the need for a bank guarantee, virtually calling the decision discrimination against their business.

Akbar Ghamkhar, a Tehran Tour and Travel Agencies’ Association board member, said ICHHTO’s tourism deputy, Morteza Rahmani Movahed, had stated that decision was based on careful studies and factored in inflation and the law.

“The issue is going to be reviewed later, but until then travel agencies that need to renew their permits have to comply with the new regulations if they are to retain their licenses,” he said.

Ghamkhar questioned the validity of Movahed’s claims, saying bank guarantees ensure that customers’ rights are upheld and fraud is not committed, but none of these are explicitly covered in the law cited by the officials.