Room Rates Rise

Room Rates Rise  Room Rates Rise

In a defiant move, hotels have started raising fees by 15% as the (very) public dispute between hoteliers and the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization continues with no sign of letting up.

Quoting Mohammad Qanei’, director of the Mashhad Hoteliers’ Society, Mehr News Agency reported at the weekend that hotel owners began raising the prices as of mid-January, much to the chagrin of the ICHHTO.

This is while according to the organization, hotel owners and the ICHHTO had agreed on a 12% hike in room rates, as opposed to the proposed 15%.

However, hotel owners disagree, saying that after a meeting with the organization’s tourism deputy, Morteza Rahmani Movahed, the two sides agreed on raising the rates by 15% and the decision was also approved by ICHHTO chief, Masoud Soltanifar.

Movahed dismissed the claims as untrue.

“We could never agree to a 15% hike. When the government is aiming for a single-digit inflation rate, there is no reason to agree to a 15% rise in room rates,” he said at a press conference in early January.

In response to the hoteliers’ call for deregulating prices, he said, “This short-sightedness will rob [our hotel industry] of the ability to be competitive in the region.”

However, Jamshid Hamzezadeh, the president of the Iran Hoteliers’ Society, says, “Hotels do not provide basic services. Our business is with luxury. As such, prices must be based on supply and demand, not according to what the government says or thinks is appropriate.”

Hoteliers claim that ICHHTO’s insistence on having a say in the matter is a blatant disregard for  private enterprise that is striving to find its proper place in the economy emerging slowly from years of economic sanctions and gross mismanagement.

On the other hand, the organization’s tourism deputy, Morteza Rahmani Movahed, argues that allowing the private sector to set room rates without supervision could lead to exorbitant prices that might put a night’s stay in hotels out of reach of most people.

  Majlis in the Mix

The growing tensions between hoteliers and the ICHHTO has spilled over to the Majlis, with travel news website Donyaye Safar quoting Javad Heravi, head of the Parliament Y Tourism Commission saying, “The longer the dispute drags on, the more people and tourists will suffer.”

He said it is unheard of to allow prices to be set without supervision and called on hotel owners to “respect the law.”

“As the foremost authority on travel and tourism, ICHHTO must be actively involved in the process (of setting prices).”

Heravi warned against “opportunists who are trying to make a quick buck” by taking undue advantage of the constant fluctuations in prices, and said the only way to ensure tourists do not suffer is to allow the organization in charge, the ICHHTO, to do its job.