People, Travel

Quality of Domestic Hotels Below Int’l Standards

Star ratings of Iranian hotels are “honorary” and don’t reflect the quality of service and amenities.Star ratings of Iranian hotels are “honorary” and don’t reflect the quality of service and amenities.

After over a decade, Iran's campaign to bring the quality of hotels up to global standards is still a matter of dispute between hoteliers and tourism authorities.

Hotel owners complain about the high costs of standardization and consultancy from relevant firms. They also frequently demand that the hotel rates be liberalized.

However, Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization opposes the deregulation of prices, arguing that hotel services must first reach international standards.

Vali Teymouri, director of the Monitoring and Assessment of Tourism Services Office at ICHHTO, confirmed the sector's shortcomings and the discord between quality and prices.

"In several provinces, due to the severe lack of tourism infrastructure, the few lodging places charge the highest possible rates with the poorest quality of services," he told the travel news website Safar.

What's worse, demand is still relatively high despite lackluster service quality, which only renders hoteliers content with the current state of affairs.

"Whether standard or not, hotels will have their customers," he said. Teymouri said hoteliers strongly oppose standardization and create a fuss in the media.

However, "with the reduction in the costs of consultancy, hoteliers have now shown greater willingness to improve their services", he said.

Teymouri has long been a critic of the poor quality of services in hotels, having once said that the star ratings are “honorary” and don’t reflect the quality of services and amenities. Hoteliers and tourism officials have often clashed on issues ranging from room rates to service quality, but the crux of their problem is that hotel owners believe ICHHTO wants to exert full control over the industry.

In response, tourism officials say their oversight is necessary because hotels charge a premium without offering the services that go with it. They argue that hotel ratings do not reflect an establishment’s facilities and service quality, a point evident from the tents set up by tourists in parks and camping sites, or the preference for cheap vacation rental.

They also say tourists have no guarantee that they will get their money’s worth during a costly stay in a hotel.

Observers believe once foreign hotel chains establish a foothold in Iran, domestic hotels will have no choice but to catch up with foreign competitors, or perish.

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