People, Travel

Chinese Illegal Accommodations Still Operating in Tehran

Chinese Illegal Accommodations Still Operating in TehranChinese Illegal Accommodations Still Operating in Tehran

Despite pledges by authorities to stop illegal accommodations hosting Chinese tourists in Iran, these lodging places are still operating, a member of Iran Tour Operators Association said.

Mostafa Shafiei Shakib also announced recently that Chinese tourists are still staying illegally in apartments across Tehran.

"I have been informed of the operation of at least six such places in Tehran," Shakib was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

According to the official, a number of five- or six-story apartment blocks in locations such as Motahhari and Sabounchi streets or opposite Mellat Park have been entirely rented by Chinese nationals who have hired a Chinese chef and caretaker for hosting tourists and business travelers. They pick up tourists at airports and transport them to these houses.  

"These buildings serve as hotels with no license and signboard," he said.

Shakib made the statements while speaking at a meeting between Iranian and Chinese travel agents in Iran to discuss tourism ties.

The meeting was attended by officials from the Foreign Ministry and Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

Ali Rafiei, tourism deputy at Tehran's ICHHTO office, pointed out that a workgroup at the Inbound Tourism Safety and Security Commission is currently reviewing the case.

"The investigations are in the final stages and we are currently making decisions on how to take action," he said.

Rafiei had earlier stressed that the issue is very delicate since it involves foreign nationals and international relations, because of which the consequences of actions have to be carefully considered before any move is made.    

Shakib, however, said no action has been taken since then.  

"I have given the list of these lodging places in 10 districts with complete details to all relevant organizations but none has been closed," he said, adding that these homes can easily be traced through Chinese tourists arriving at Iranian airports.

China is the world's largest tourism source market with around 100 million outbound travelers every year. It is only one of Iran's top target markets.

Iran's policy has been aimed at facilitating travel for people from China. Visas for Chinese nationals are issued at the airport and no hotel voucher or tour guide is required.

But with some tricksters circumventing the law in Iran, the policies have failed to generate the expected profit for the country.

This is while the Chinese government has recently placed restrictions on Iranians traveling to this country. The issuance of one-person visas for Iranian travelers has been banned unless they pay $200 or travel in groups of more than five in which case the cost of the visa will be the regular $25.

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