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Call for Cutting Red Tape to Promote E-Tourism

Tourism authorities should bring their criteria for issuing online business licenses in line with the ministry's to help reduce bureaucracy, the head of the Economy Ministry's Business Deregulation and Facilitation Board said.

All online businesses must gain the approval of the Center for E-Commerce Development, an Economy Ministry-affiliate, which issues a license known as the "E" seal.

Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, however, insists that businesses active in the field of tourism must also obtain a permit known as the "T" seal from ICHHTO.

In an interview with Mehr News Agency, Emadeddin Sakhaei added that the board has suggested to the tourism body to provide it with a list of criteria that online tourism businesses must comply with to gain the organization's approval.

"The idea is to issue the 'E' seal to travel and tourism businesses only when they meet both the ministry's and the ICHHTO's requirements," he said.

Sakhaei said the board's task is to cut red tape and facilitate business development "and this can do just that".

Tourism and e-commerce officials have been at loggerheads since last week when news broke that ICHHTO had blocked a number of tourism-related websites through a government agency that had failed to acquire the "T" seal, despite the fact that they had obtained the ministry's approval.

Faranak Razeq Oskouei, the deputy head of the center, said earlier this week that she had spoken to the deregulation board that declared online tourism businesses are not legally obligated to apply for permits from the tourism organization.

“As such, we will no longer require tourism-related websites to acquire licenses from ICHHTO,” she said.

This prompted a quick response from tourism officials, with Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at the ICHHTO, saying the deregulation board "does not have the authority" to limit the organization's duties.

Vali Teymouri, director of Monitoring and Assessment of Tourism Services Office, cited Article 7 of Iran’s Travel and Tourism Development Law that “clearly states all activities in the field must be permitted by the organization”.

Teymouri added that the law “doesn’t specify whether it’s traditional or online business”.

The deregulation board's proposal seems like a good compromise, but it remains to be seen what tourism officials will decide.


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