Contradictory Claims About Hotel Occupancy

Spreading false news about the occupancy rates of hotels is harmful to the industry
On average, the occupancy rate of Iranian hotels is less than 50%.On average, the occupancy rate of Iranian hotels is less than 50%.

Iran’s hospitality sector has once again found itself in the midst of contradictory statements made by tour operators and hotel owners.

Reports circulated last week that top quality hotels in the country are fully booked for the peak travel season in 2017, but it turns out that the reports are only partially true.

Speaking to Mehr News Agency, Jamshid Hamzehzadeh, president of the Iranian Hoteliers’ Society, said those claims could not be further from the truth.

“On average, the occupancy rate of Iranian hotels is less than 50%,” he said, adding that people who claim the entire country’s hotels are booked only look at the statistics of a handful of popular cities during specific times of the year and generalize the same as the nationwide data.

“Occupancy rates in Iranian hotels experience extremes: top hotels in certain cities are mostly booked, while most hotels in a majority of cities are struggling,” he said.

Hamzehzadeh lamented the declining occupancy rates of hotels and blamed vacation rentals and people’s poor purchasing power.

“People prefer to set up tents or at most pay for vacation rentals, which is bad news for the hotel industry,” he said, adding that international hotel chains rarely face difficulty in filling up their rooms, but the same cannot be said about hotel groups in Iran.

Tourism officials have a history of making grand claims about the occupancy rate of Iran’s four- and five-star hotels. Last year, Masoud Soltanifar, head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, said the country’s top hotel groups, namely Homa, Laleh, Parsian and Pars, enjoy 55% to 75% occupancy rates.

Shortly after, Ebrahim Pourfaraj, the head of Iranian Tour Operators’ Association, said all top quality hotels in Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Ahvaz and Tehran were booked until the end of the last Iranian year (ended March 19, 2016).

It did not take long for hotel owners to refute the reports, with Mehdi Narimani, president of Isfahan Hotel Owners’ Association, labeling the spread of false news as “damaging” to the industry.

“People should consider the consequences of what they say. False statements can have dire ramifications,” Narimani said.

“People who have no reliable data on whether a hotel is fully booked should not make such wild claims.”

The hotelier said claiming that hotels are fully booked will not only interfere with effective planning, but would also cause problems for hotel owners and the Iranian National Tax Administration

Pourfaraj later amended his statement, saying he was only referring to “five-star hotels in Isfahan, Yazd, Shiraz and Tehran”, whose quality hotels are all booked during the peak travel season, which happens to coincide with a large number of international conferences and symposiums.

“Some people clearly benefit from the illusion that the country’s hotels are full,” Hamzehzadeh said.