Hoteliers, ICHHTO Fight Over Fare Hike

Hoteliers, ICHHTO Fight Over Fare HikeHoteliers, ICHHTO Fight Over Fare Hike

Rising tensions over hotel rates in the next fiscal year (starts March 20) between hotel owners and the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization entered a new pitch at the weekend when hoteliers threatened legal action against what they call “government interference.”

Local media on Wednesday reported that hotel rates are set for a 12% rise next year, less than the 15% hotel owners had originally demanded.

Their demand was rejected by the ICHHTO on the grounds that it was higher the 11% inflation rate announced by the government, leading to the two sides to reportedly agree on the 12% increase. The organization said it had notified all hotels of the price hike.

However, Jamshid Hamzehzadeh, president of the Iranian Hoteliers’ Association (IHS), said at a press conference 24 hours later that the ICHHTO “had agreed to our 15% demand” at a meeting only days before the organization’s tourism deputy, Morteza Rahmani Movahed, went public with 12% news, the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.

“Every year, we increase fares by 20%, but this year we agreed on a 15% rise,” Hamzehzadeh said.

In response to Movahed, who had said the ICHHTO “doesn’t stand for inflated prices” and defends the people’s right to affordable travel, Hamzehzadeh said the government should not interfere with hotel pricing.

Muhammad Ali Farrokhmehr, head of the Tehran Hotels Association, said he will take legal action against the ICHHTO and Movahed, a statement which received overwhelming support from the heads of hotel associations in other provinces.

“We will follow [Farrokhmehr’s] example and file a complaint against the organization,” said Kamyar Eskandaryoon, head of the Zanjan Hotels Association.

  Inflated Rates

The ICHHTO is obliged by law to monitor hotel pricing and ensure lodging facilities’ compliance with regulations, according to Movahed.

In response to demands made by Hamzehzadeh earlier this month regarding the liberalization of hotel fares, Movahed said it is a ruse to offer rooms at inflated prices.

“We will not buy this and defend the people’s rights,” he was quoted as saying by travel news website Donyaye Safar.

Hotels in Iran are normally accused of overcharging and failing to provide services in accordance with their star rating. As a result, people are turning to other alternatives such as vacation homes which have hurt the hotel business.

He said Iran’s tourism industry feels the lack of a strong, independent regulatory body, which is why the ICHHTO is responsible for monitoring hotel fares.

Hoteliers fail to report those who do not follow regulations, “yet they expect us to trust them with setting hotel rates.”

Referring to the meeting which Hamzehzadeh claims the two sides agreed on a 15% increase in fares, Movahed simply denied any such agreement was reached.

“We barely spent 30 minutes discussing the price hike,” he said, adding that most of the meeting was dedicated to discussions about improving the quality of service and tours.

“At the end of the meeting, we all agreed to write to the head of ICHHTO, Masoud Soltanifar, summarizing the key points of the meeting and wait for his response.”

However, the IHS notified hoteliers of the perceived agreement as though it had been approved by the government.

“They completely ignored everything we had discussed and failed to respect protocol,” the official said.