Hotelier Criticizes ICHHTO’s Inaction

Hotelier Criticizes ICHHTO’s InactionHotelier Criticizes ICHHTO’s Inaction

The president of Iran’s largest union of lodging facilities has launched a scathing attack on tourism officials, accusing them of failing to carry out their duties.

In an interview with the industry news website, Mehdi Ajilian, the head of Mashhad Union of Hotel Apartments, said the discprd between hotel associations and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization stems from ICHHTO’s failure in doing what it is supposed to, which makes cooperation between the two entities difficult.

“The organization has never drafted guidelines for unions and associations to comply, even though it is their responsibility since hotels operate under their supervision,” he said.

More than 60% of Iran’s lodging facilities are located in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Province, most of which are members of the Mashhad Union of Hotel Apartments, making the union the largest of its kind in Iran.

Nearly half of Iran’s annual five million inbound tourists visits Mashhad, mostly as pilgrims to the mausoleum of the eighth imam of Shia Muslims, Imam Reza (PBUH).

About 25 million people from Iran and overseas make the pilgrimage to the holy site every year.

“It’s their legal responsibility to devise such guidelines, but for some reason they haven’t even started working on them and claim that our involvement in tourism affairs is illegal,” Ajilian said.

He said the protracted discord only serves to exacerbate the animosity between the organization and hoteliers who now have an “us-versus-them” mentality.

“Tourism officials correctly believe that [hotels] operate under the organization’s supervision, but they need associations to protect their interests,” he said.

“Currently unions exist because of the vacuum created by ICHHTO’s lack of initiative in the field. They had to form these associations themselves with charters devised by tourism officials, but they didn’t.”

The hotelier said the longer this problem is dragged out, the worse the conflict becomes, which can only hurt the industry and put the country’s already-ambitious tourism goals out of reach.

“Unions have a legal right to exist and our right is protected by the Majlis and the Guardians Council,” he said, adding that cooperation between the government and private stakeholders is imperative for developing tourism.

However, Ajilian said he is “completely opposed” to taking legal action against the organization because “it will only widen the rift between us, but we expect them stop fanning the flames and take steps to bring us closer”.

Iran has targeted 20 million tourists annually by 2025, which can turn the $7.5 billion sector into a $30 billion industry.