As part of sanctions largely led by the USA against Iran, the country has been in the dark for many years. Now …
As part of sanctions largely led by the USA against Iran, the country has been in the dark for many years.
Now there is an emergence of sorts into the light – or at least a small crack.
All the things we take for granted in travel agency reservations have essentially been blocked in some form or other for more than 20 years.
A critical part of the sanctions covered the use of American technology, which was expressly forbidden.
Thus no GDS could operate in Iran. Imagine a world without a GDS. Yes, there has been one – in Iran.
As part of a strange quirk of fate, the war against terror is now focused on combating ISIS/ISIL/IS.
This makes my enemy’s enemy my friend. Thus a thaw between the USA and Iran.
This is taking the form of the big three western GDSs being able to bring some (but not all) their systems and services to Iran.
The organization in the US Federal Government is called OFAC. It is a division of the US Treasury and has been managing US imposed sanctions for many years.
It has in the past permitted US companies and those using US technology to obtain a waiver and export into the country.
For example, humanitarian aid.
The recent thaw has seen a loosening of these requirements in aviation and travel.
This is not to say that there haven’t been some solutions that operate in the country directly outside of the control of OFAC.
Several countries who are friendly with Iran have been able to bring open source solutions into the country.
However the standard things that make a travel agency system work such as payment (no credit cards), no payment transactions out of the country, back office, GDS etc etc have struggled.
The GDS infrastructure was largely built on American technology.
This is good news for travel suppliers of all types who want to get into the country and in the hands of Iranian travel agents.
From a long term perspective – this should provide a good opportunity for Iranians to enjoy some of the same benefits that the rest of us take for granted.
NB: Iran travel image via Shutterstock.