ICHHTO, Economy Ministry Dispute Online Tourism Authority
People, Travel

ICHHTO, Economy Ministry Dispute Online Tourism Authority

Online tourism businesses no longer need to apply for permits from Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, an official at the E-Commerce Development Center said.
However, the tourism authority still insists that its approval is not only required, but also necessary.
All online businesses until now needed permits from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance. However, ICHHTO insists that tourism-related businesses must also apply for permits from the organization, Mehr News Agency reported.
Last week, the Iranian E-Commerce Society complained that tourism websites approved by the Economy Ministry that did not obtain permits from ICHHTO were being systematically blocked by Internet service providers and mobile operators, as a result of an injunction by the tourism body.
To resolve the issue, a meeting was held on Saturday in Tehran between business owners and officials at the Center for E-Commerce Development, which is affiliated to the ministry.
Faranak Razeq Oskouei, the deputy head of the center, said she had spoken to the ministry’s Business Deregulation and Facilitation Council that declared online tourism businesses are not legally obligated to apply for permits from the tourism organization.
“As such, we will no longer require tourism-related websites to acquire licenses from ICHHTO,” she said.
The e-commerce center is said to be planning talks with judiciary officials to unblock the websites banned by ICHHTO.
The tourism organization, however, still insists that its approval is necessary.
“The deregulation council cannot limit ICHHTO’s duties because it doesn’t have the authority,” Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at the organization, said.
“Any entity that wants to get involved in tourism must prove itself to us and provide guarantees,” he added.
Vali Teymouri, director of Monitoring and Assessment of Tourism Services Office, cited Article 7 of Iran’s Travel and Tourism Development Law that “clearly states all activities in the field must be permitted by the organization”.
He added that the law “doesn’t specify whether it’s traditional or online business”.
It is unclear what the future holds for online tourism business, but if the opposing arguments are any indication, the problem will be dragged out.


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