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Proposed Higher Departure Fees Angers Iranians

Iranian tourists in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.
Iranian tourists in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

A new revenue generating measure in President Hassan Rouhani’s proposed budget has led to public outcry and mocking of the government in Iran.

“Exit fees” from the country are set to rise many fold, if the new budget is passed in the coming months.

Until now, every Iranian citizen departing the country had to pay an exit fee of around $18. The new proposal will raise this amount to $55, for a person’s first annual departure. The second departure will cost 50 percent more and for the third trip, the cost will surpass $100.

In case of family voyages, each individual should pay the higher departure fee, which can make a holiday very expensive.

Iranian families with middle class incomes sometimes travel to neighboring countries, such as Turkey or Armenia, for an affordable holiday and an escape from Iran’s stringent social regulations. Now, destination proximity will not matter so much, as the exit or departure fee can become prohibitive for many.

Iran’s conservative media, having found a good topic to criticize Rouhani, have echoed public’s reaction to the proposal.

Fars news agency, close to the revolutionary guards, reports about “public dissatisfaction” and mentions examples from social media to highlight how people are mocking the government.

Some social media users have “thanked” Rouhani for not raising fees for those who just stay in the country and have joked that this is a good strategy to prevent the brain-drain from Iran.

Several well-known performers and sports stars have also joined the chorus of criticism against the government proposal.

Iranian tour companies are also protesting, since they are bound to lose a lot of business.