Iranian hotels suffer $4.8 billion loss since start of pandemic

September 13, 2021 - 18:36

TEHRAN – Iranian hotels have lost 202 trillion rials (some $4.8 billion at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar( of potential revenues as the COVID-19 pandemic drastically curbed travel in the country, the Iranian Hotel Association has said.

“Hotels and other official accommodation centers in Iran have suffered 202 trillion rials of financial losses from Esfand 1398 (February 20, 2019) to the end of Mordad 1400 (August 22, 2021),” ISNA quoted the association’s head Jamshid Hamzehzadeh as saying on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, two-thirds of the hotel staff have lost their jobs, while many of them were experts in their field,” he stated.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Hamzehzadeh referred to a recent scheme put forward by the tourism minister Ezzatollah Zarghami based on which travel insiders are tasked to design affordable packages to jumpstart domestic tourism.

“Most hotels are willing to cooperate in this project and they are willing to contribute to such a markdown without compromising the quality of their services,” Hamzehzadeh added.

“If this plan is implemented, both the people and travel insiders will benefit from… and the “stagnant wheel of the hotel economy” will be turning to some extent.”

Earlier this month, the newly-appointed minister called on travel agencies and tour operators to design affordable packages to enliven domestic tourism.

“Unfortunately, two-thirds of the hotel staff have lost their jobs, while many of them were experts in their field.” “I have two recommendations and requests; one is to offer a variety of tour packages and the other is to design cheap packages [for domestic travels], and of course you have to help in this regard,” the minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts said.

“I hope this pandemic is resolved quickly and a tsunami of tourism is created,” he stated.

The ministry was previously considering some plans to reopen doors to vaccinated travelers from across the globe. “The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts have already started extensive consultations with other government ministries for the reopening of borders to vaccinated travelers,” the deputy minister, Vali Teymouri, announced in May.

“One of the issues that we are pursuing strongly through various committees is the arrival of international citizens who have been vaccinated so that won’t pose a threat or concern to the Iranian society,” the official said.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Teymouri explained how traveling and hospitality sectors of the country are adopting the virus-related limitations, stressing the need to re-analyze target markets, redefine tourism products and improve the level of e-services. “We need to revise marketing strategies, and to redefine tourism products by paying great attention to nature tours, rural tourism, ecotourism, agricultural tourism as a tool to empower local communities and travel businesses.”

Furthermore, the head of the Iranian Tour Operators Association Ebrahim Pourfaraj has asked the government to issue tourist visas for the international applicants who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. “The Ministry of Health and the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control can at least agree that the international tourists who have received the [second dose of] coronavirus vaccine would be allowed to enter Iran,” Pourfaraj earlier this year.

He also lamented that the continuation of such a trend would result in losing international tourist markets more than before. “Or at least they should make it clear so that we can respond appropriately to foreign companies and tourists to not to miss the international tourist markets more than before,” he said.

According to available data compiled by the tourism ministry, the number of foreign visitors to Iran plunged 94% in the first nine months of the past Iranian calendar year (ended March 20, 2021) as the coronavirus pandemic takes a heavy toll on the tourism industry.

“Some 450,000 foreign travelers arrived in Iran for mainly medical or trade purposes during the first nine months of the year… tightened measures to tackle the new coronavirus has reduced international travel to the country by 94 percent,” Teymouri said.

The ancient land embraces hundreds of historical sites such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 26 being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, the country aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.


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