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Saudi Arabia's Tourism Authority Sets New
Classification Standards for Hotels

By Walaa Hawari, Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

June 29, 2010--RIYADH -- The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) launched on Sunday a new classification system for furnished accommodation that will lead to improved services.

Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the SCTA, said the purpose of classifying accommodation is to determine the level of services that they provide and balance the interests of investors and the people who use them. He added that tying prices to the standards of services offered is a progressive move forward.

He also said that the process of devising a system to classify accommodation was done in conjunction with international specialist organizations and that the system takes into consideration the experiences of other developed countries.

He added that the issue was also discussed with a number of concerned government sectors, and that workshops were held with private organizations to gauge their views.

Prince Sultan said the private sector should establish qualified companies to manage and operate furnished accommodation to enhance the level of services that they offer and create job opportunities.

The chairman pointed out that the Human Resources Fund is cooperating with the SCTA and that over 20,000 jobs would be generated in the hotel sector over the next two years. "Since the SCTA guidelines were issued by a Cabinet decree in 2008 that called on it to supervise tourist accommodation, a comprehensive program to develop this sector has been adopted," he said.

The program, he said, includes improving services, stimulating investments, creating local jobs and developing tourist information.

The SCTA, said Prince Sultan, launched a new classification system for hotels last month and gave hotels 18 months to improve the services they offer.

He added that the classification of accommodation in Makkah and Madinah was prepared in conjunction with other bodies and in line with the directives of Prince Naif, second deputy premier and minister of interior.

The commission is presently undertaking a comprehensive reevaluation of existing hotels and accommodation units in Makkah and Madinah, which represent 70 percent of total tourist accommodation in the Kingdom.


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