Hoteliers Pounce on Vacation Rentals

Hoteliers Pounce  on Vacation RentalsHoteliers Pounce  on Vacation Rentals

Hotel owners believe support by Iran’s top tourism body for vacation rentals has driven business down and incurred losses on hotels.

In a meeting last week between Iranian hoteliers and Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, hotel owners voiced dismay with the organization’s continued support for vacation rentals and called on officials to rethink their policy.

A vacation rental is the short-term renting out of a fully-furnished accommodation, from a house or an apartment in the city to a cabin in the woods, by the homeowner. They are oftentimes seen as an affordable alternative to hotels, especially in a country like Iran where hotels are accused of overcharging and failing to provide services in accordance with their star rating.

“Hotel occupancy rates have taken a hit because people opt to stay in vacation homes, since the government recognizes their (homeowners) right to work,” Jamshid Hamzezadeh, the president of Iran’s Hoteliers Society, told ISNA.

He said occupancy rates declined by 15% in the first seven months of the current Iranian year (March 21 – September 21) compared to the same period last year thanks to the vacation homes, which he said were “not creditworthy.”

Hamzezadeh launched a scathing attack against the organization’s policies and said, “The notion of quality in these facilities is meaningless, because they are not monitored by ICHHTO.”

The hotelier warned against “promoting the culture of vacation rentals” and said prevalence of these types of accommodation is not in the industry’s best interest, according to Mehr News Agency.

 Learning From Others

The ICHHTO’s Movahed did not buy the argument and dismissed the forceful attack. “The low occupancy rate of hotels is not caused by the popularity of holiday homes,” he told the gathering.

Banning vacation homes will not help lift the fortunes of the hotel owners, he noted, and called on them to “exercise patience and engage in constructive dialogue to help boost the hospitality sector.”

He pointed to the popularity of vacation homes in many countries and said, “Holiday homes have been in operation for 40 years across the planet, with excellent results.

“It’s logical to implement projects that have produced results in other countries. We need to learn and reproduce successful ideas,” he said in rare public affirmation by an Iranian official that the country has much to learn and benefit from the valuable experience of others.

Movahed said vacation homes and hotels have their own costumers, “as such, they don’t encroach on each other’s territory.”

The government is striving to help the private sector develop and the organization’s support for vacation homes “does not mean we’ve abandoned the private sector.”

According to ICHHTO chief Masoud Soltanifar, the country has 1,100 hotels and guest houses, including 130 four - and five - star hotels.

Iran’s lack of acceptable lodging facilities is often  mentioned as a major factor hampering the efforts of the government to become a top tourist attraction; therefore, allowing “licensed homeowners” to rent out their property will no doubt help alleviate some of the pressure on the industry.

Officials have been quoted as saying that the country needs at least another 400 hotels to be able to accommodate 20 million tourists a year by 2025. Hoteliers have called on the government to help facilitate investment in the sector and offer incentives to foreign firms and Iranians to finance hotel projects.

The ICHHTO has prepared a package detailing investment opportunities in 1,300 projects to lure foreign investors and revitalize the limping tourism sector.

Even though hotel owners claim they have the industry’s best interest at heart, their latest broadside on vacation homes has given rise to more questions than answers.  For the matter, during the annual Nowrouz holiday season millions of Iranians travel in the country only to find out that the few hundred poorly performing hotels are overbooked and they should make other arrangements!