People, Travel

No Formal Reports on Illegal Chinese Accommodation

Recent reports suggest Chinese tourists take up accommodation in unauthorized facilities.
Recent reports suggest Chinese tourists take up accommodation in unauthorized facilities.

The Monitoring and Assessment of Tourism Services Office at Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization said it has received no official reports on the alleged illegal accommodation of Chinese tourists in Iranian facilities.

"We have not received any report about places of residence being rented out to tourists, but if true, it is an illegal act," Vali Teymouri, the head of the office, was also quoted as saying by ISNA.

This is while the issue has been a hot topic in travel media outlets.

Reports had stated that Chinese workers or students in Iran discreetly rent their accommodation to tourists from their country. Following complaints by tourism authorities, the Tourism Safety and Security Commission of the National Security Council began reviewing the case.  

According to Ali Rafiei, tourism deputy at Tehran's office of ICHHTO, the commission has convened three times so far to review the matter and details of the lodging facilities have been compiled.

An unnamed tour guide noted that 10 such homes have been identified in Tehran alone. The illegal activities are believed to have been going on for some three years, but the authorities only began to address the issue six months ago.

Teymouri, however, insisted that his office has not been informed of such activities, but confirmed the illegality of the practice.

"Based on the present regulations, any lodging that does not comply with the statute on the construction, grading and pricing of tourism facilities is against the law and should be tackled," he was quoted as saying by ISNA.

The official noted that foreign nationals who reside in Iran for work or education are not allowed to host tourists in their place of residence, especially with the intention of earning an income.

Teymouri stressed that foreign nationals are not allowed to work without a work permit.

"If there are suspicions that an unauthorized entity is hosting tourists, it must be dealt with immediately—but nothing has been communicated to this office yet," he said.

China is the world's largest tourism source market with around a 100 million outbound travelers every year. It is only one of Iran's top target markets and reports emerged last month that officials are in talks with China—as well as India, Russia and Azerbaijan—to waive visa requirements.

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