COVID-19 inflicts $1.4 billion in losses on Iran’s hotels

June 26, 2020 - 19:28

TEHRAN – The outbreak of the new coronavirus has inflicted a loss of 60,000 billion rials (about $1.4 billion at the official dollar rate of 42,000 rials) on Iranian hospitality industry during the past four months, the president of Iranian Hoteliers Association said on Friday.

“Hoteliers in different provinces of the country have suffered 60,000 billion rials in damage over the past four months following the outbreak of coronavirus [which put a pause on the travel industry to help curb the disease],”Jamshid Hamzezadeh said.

He made the remarks during an assembly of Iranian hoteliers, which was held in the UNESCO-registered Sheikh Safi al-din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil on Friday, describing the damage as “very severe”.

“Although hotels and accommodation centers have reopened, Coronavirus’s damage to this section of the tourism industry is still going on.”

He said that the country's tourism industry suffered some 100 percent losses from the pandemic over the last four months, adding “Part of this loss and damage must be compensated by the government.”

He called on the government to show sympathy and provide support with the suffered investors in the tourism industry, especially the hoteliers' community, adding that the private sector in the tourism industry should be able to provide services in the post-COVID-19 period.

He had earlier asked the government to exempt the tourism industry from paying taxes, as hotels, travel agencies and accommodation centers have lost revenues due to total shutdown amid the virus spread.

The rebound, according to experts, will be much more noticeable once the Iranian government agrees to grant proper bailouts and economic relief packages to the beleaguered travel industry being brought to a virtual standstill.

On one hand, the government has announced it will bail out those which are grappling with fiscal problems by offering loans with a 12-percent interest rate. On the other, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts has suggested a rescue package for tourism businesses.

“Such amount of bailouts will not compensate for much of the losses as the virus pandemic has brought tourism to a standstill for two months,” Amir-Pouya Rafiei-Shad who presides over Tehran province’s Tour and Travel Agencies Association said in April.

“Last [Iranian calendar] year was a bumpy ride for Iran’s tourism as it suffered from flooding in the spring, protests [over petrol prices] in November, and the fatal Ukraine International Airlines plane crash in January,” Rafiei-Shad explained.

On April 20, Iran lifted intercity travel bans days after President Hassan Rouhani unveiled a “Smart Social Distancing Initiative” as a new phase of measures to prevent the virus spread.

AFM/MG

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