People, Travel

Travel Card Making a Comeback

Travel Card Making a ComebackTravel Card Making a Comeback

Suspended for nearly half a decade, the National Travel Card scheme is about to make a comeback, according to the CEO of the National Travel Card Company Mustafa Qahremani.

Launched nine years ago by former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the travel card (Safar Kart in Persian) was meant to make domestic travel financially accessible for government employees and retirees. Touting the success of the scheme, the erstwhile administration announced a few years later that the scheme was being used by three million people and about 5,000 institutions across the country had signed up to provide services to tourists through the scheme.

State organizations that provided their employees and retired staff with the travel card were obliged by a government directive to allocate funds from their annual budget to the scheme, but since the directive was not legally binding, most organizations refused to comply.

Those which did set funds aside charged the cards with insignificant sums of money that would not cover the travel costs of a family of four. Furthermore, the majority of institutions that had agreed to offer discounts to cardholders did not keep their end of the bargain.

The scheme was then promptly and quietly pushed aside, but Qahremani told ISNA on Saturday that over the past couple of years, “several companies have shown interest in reviving it.”

He said shortly after the suspension of the plan, the Iran Touring and Tourism Investment Company, jointly owned by the State Pension Fund and the Social Security Organization, purchased the company’s shares and became the new owners of the so-called Safar Kart.

Subsequently, the subsidiary companies of ITTIC were instructed to offer discounts to cardholders.

“We’ve begun negotiations with interested parties to determine what amount of money they are willing to allocate to the scheme for their employees,” Qahremani said.