Kish Booms amid UAE Visa Run

KISH (Iran) — September 23. Hotels run out of beds, mattresses and bed-sheets. Five flights of airlines bound for Kish from the UAE are cancelled. Hotel rooms are jam-packed with guests of different nationalities.

By Lily B. Libo-on

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Published: Tue 7 Oct 2008, 1:42 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 7:28 PM

Business centres are filled with callers and Internet users trying to get in touch with their travel agents in Dubai. This was how Kish island, a placid tourist destination in Iran, boasting of its natural scenery looked like on that day.

As the UAE implemented its new visa rules, Kish suddenly started witnessing cash changing hands fast as visa changers got stuck on the island. These days, hotels here are cashing in heavily on the influx of visa changers from the UAE, and most of them have no more rooms to spare.

The island has 50 hotels, 40 of which are three-star, four-star and five-star facilities. The rest cater to visa changers, who have been on the island since the implementation of the UAE’s new visa rule from July 29. These 10 hotels charge Dh35 per person for sharing a room with four or five others. Families that want to have a single room are charged Dh150 to Dh200 a day.

As the exodus of visa changers from the UAE to Kish peaked a few days before the start of Ramadan, hotels were overflowing with guests, who could not say how long they would be staying. Everything depended on the arrival of their visas from the UAE.

Even today, most of them are still waiting on the island. Fatima Mendoza, tour coordinator and customer service in charge of Farabi Hotel, a sister company of Kish Airline, Said the hotel purchased two truck loads of new mattresses and bed-sheets. “Rooms with a capacity of five are Now occupied by nine persons while others with a capacity of eight have up to 13 guests.

“We allow additional guests in a room only if the other guests agree,” she added.

While 20 to 30 guests are checking out daily from every hotel, 55 to 60 are coming in from Dubai.

Masoud, at the reservation office of another hotel, said 12 guests pleaded to be allowed to stay in the lobby and sleep on sofas.

“They said they had gone around the island and could not find any vacant room. So we allowed them to stay with us without charging anything.”

Other hotels have had to heed the requests of tearful visa changers to allow them to sleep on the floor. Some, however, have made additional profits by increasing their daily room rates.

Still others are undergoing urgent renovation and expansion in an attempt to cater to more guests as the visa runs are turning the island into a very profitable enterprise of some sort.

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