Tehran Bus Tours Suspended

The only bus conducting the tours was only granted a temporary license plate that was revoked after the Norouz holidays
Tehran Municipality's tourism officials were ostensibly unaware of what had become of the sightseeing tours.Tehran Municipality's tourism officials were ostensibly unaware of what had become of the sightseeing tours.

Tehran's open-top bus tours have been suspended indefinitely, bringing a quick end to one of the city's highly-publicized tourism services.

According to a Mehr News Agency report, the reason for this is the lack of a permanent license plate for the only bus that conducted the tours. Sightseeing Iran, the company conducting the tours, had managed to temporarily clear one of its imported buses from the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration before Norouz (Iranian New Year) so it could conduct tours of Tehran during the holidays (March 21–April 2) and pay off the import tariff.

However, the bus was granted a temporary license plate and authorities stopped the tours on April 3.

"They suspended the tours a day after the Norouz holiday ended," Amin Gholamali, a private stakeholder involved in importing the buses, was quoted as saying by the news agency.

He said the company has to pay 2.5 billion rials by the Iranian month ending Dec. 21 to have their buses clear customs. He didn't say what happens if they miss the deadline.

Interestingly, Shahin Mozaffari, tourism deputy at Tehran Municipality's Tourism Headquarters, said he was "unaware" of the tours' suspension, quickly laying the blame on Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

"We were only responsible for monitoring and facilitating their activities," he said, describing the tasks of a body that should be aware of developments concerning the entities under its supervision.

A sales rep at Sightseeing Iran was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency that they "hope to restart the tours after the holy month of Ramadan", which ends on June 25.

The bus was unveiled in February at Tehran Auto Show (Feb. 14-18). During the two weeks of operation, in conducted tours on two routes: One took tourists around the city's historical fabric in District 12, while the other went past Tehran's old and modern landmarks.

Tehran tourism officials are eying an annual hike of 15% in foreign tourist attraction and they are banking on services such as open-top bus tours akin to those conducted in London to draw tourists. However, it's clear that the city has a myriad of obstacles that it needs to address first.

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