|Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi
ArabiaMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 12, 2010--RIYADH -- Half of all hotels and rest houses in Riyadh, Dammam and Alkhobar violated health and safety regulations last year, according to a report by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).
The violations were discovered by officials from SCTA's Quality and Licensing Department who registered 1,400 violations during 260 inspections, Shams newspaper reported. Most of the inspections were carried out during holidays.
Ahmad Al-Ays, director general of the Licensing and Quality Department, said the SCTA will close all establishments that fail to follow regulations. The department took over the supervision of hotels and furnished apartments from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry a year ago.
The inspectors also found that 14 percent of the establishments violated regulations relating to tariffs. According to SCTA regulations, hotels and rest houses should display their rates and categories at prominent places where visitors can see. Punishment for establishments found to violate the regulations range from fines to closure of facilities.
"Only 78 percent of the facilities that were inspected by the department displayed their tariffs at conspicuous places. However, 86 percent of them charged permitted rates," said Al-Ays.
He added that it was mostly the furnished apartments that neglected regulations, and that they have been fined.
"If they repeat the violations, then their licenses will be suspended or canceled," he said.
The official urged owners to follow the SCTA's rules stringently, adding that repeated inspections will encourage more adherence and help promote domestic tourism that is suitable for people of varying incomes. He added that the SCTA introduced the new tariff regulations in 2009.
Omar Al-Mubarak, director of the monitoring division in the department, said the inspection teams visited 108 facilities in Riyadh and 96 facilities in Dammam and Alkhobar. He added that they revisited venues where violations were found during the first visit to ensure corrections were made.
"Two inspection teams will be set up for the Eastern Province and they will make random checks there. The activities of tour organizers will also be inspected. The inspectors also met many tourists who said the services they receive match the amount of money they are charged," he said.
"However, there were also tourists who believed the charges were higher than the level of services they received," he added.
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Copyright (c) 2010, Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
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