Good hotels in border areas
Good hotels are most often found in big cities and not border areas. However, the hot deserts near the Khosravi border checkpoint will now have good hotels for hosting pilgrims heading to the Iraqi holy shrines.
Border areas lack the facilities and infrastructures to host travelers, though this is not true about checkpoints through which a large number of pilgrims travel to visit holy shrines.
At present, the four border checkpoints at Khosravi, Mehran, Shalamcheh and Chazabeh host some 35,000 pilgrims traveling to the shrines of Karbala, Najaf, Kufa and Samarra, Fars News Agency reported.
One of the important border terminals of the country is Khosravi, Kermanshah province. Everyday, about 3,000 pilgrims enter Iraq via this border.
Currently, pilgrims who visit holy shrines organized by Haj and Pilgrimage Organization stay in hotels of Khosravi or Qasr-e Shirin, before entering Iraqi territories the next day.
This mode of accommodation in border areas has been implemented since past many years and has been accepted by pilgrims.
So, they are surprised to find a 3-star hotel with modern facilities in border areas.
Khosravi was rather a developed area before the Iraq-imposed war (1980-88), but today nothing remains of this town except a main boulevard, which is practically abandoned and hardly anybody lives there.
Despite the lapse of over 20 years since the end of the war, the local residents cannot return due to various reasons, including the absence of demining operations. Many areas are contaminated with mines.
Today, the resident population of Khosravi is small, though in recent years modern hotels have been built here which can even compete with the modern hotels of provincial capitals.
One may wonder what has motivated the owners of these hotels to make heavy investments in desert areas where almost nobody lives.
The construction of a 3-star hotel with an average built-in area of 3,000 square meters and modern facilities requires an investment of 40 billion rials (about $4 million).
Furthermore, the customers of such hotels are basically pilgrims visiting the Iraqi shrines. Hence, if pilgrims do not come to the area, only the dust and haze of Khosravi’s hot deserts will enter these hotels.
The crux of the matter is that investors, who have decided to make high-risk investments in such deprived areas and render services to pilgrims, should be supported. These investors have brought economic prosperity to the region.
It is evident that the cooperation and support of state and provincial officials will attract more investments to the area.
Unfortunately, private investors do not get any financial support for building hotels in border regions that cannot guarantee the recovery of the initial capital either.
In the past few days, a 3-star hotel called ‘Samen-ul-Hojaj’ was inaugurated in Khosravi by Samen Cultural and Artistic Institute with an investment of 35 billion rials (about $3.5 million). A major portion of the investment pertains to banking loans with monthly installations of 220 million rials (about $22,000) and a cash fine of one million rials per day for the delay in repaying the loan.
It is obvious that a hotel in a border area like Khosaravi has no customers other than pilgrims and the only official body in charge of sending pilgrims to Iraqi holy shrines is the Haj and Pilgrimage Organization. Hence, hotel owners do not have any alternative other than signing a contract with this organization and accepting its terms and conditions.
The main problem is that the organization and provincial tour companies offer rates for signing a contract with a 3-star hotel in border areas, which do not even comply with the prices of motels.
At present, the provincial pilgrimage office has signed contracts with owners of private residences and accommodation places in Qasr-e Shirin at the rate of 90,000 rials per pilgrim for a one night stay with breakfast and dinner. These places can only be used as venues for pilgrims to rest for a few hours and do not provide comfortable amenities.
Similarly, the provincial pilgrimage office signs a contract worth 110,000 rials for one night in 2-star or 3-star hotels of Khosravi, inclusive of breakfast and dinner despite all their modern services. This figure cannot cover the hotel’s expenditures.
Hotel owners in this region have no alternative but to accept such meager and unfair rates, as they can only host pilgrims through the provincial pilgrimage office. Unless these rates are revised upward, these rates are not sustainable and will not be able to keep these hotels afloat.