The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), completed the re-evaluation of all Saudi Arabia hotels and more than 70 percent of furnished residential units in the Kingdom have been classified, except for Makka and Al Madina provinces. Hence the first phase of the classification the accommodation sector (hotels and furnished residential units) is completed; SCTA is seeking to employ specialized international companies to carry out the re-classification of tourist accommodation sector. Dr. Salah Al Bakheet, the vice president of SCTA for Investment Sector pointed out that this will allow SCTA to correctly focus on policy building and development of regulations and legislations, as well as focusing on quality control by privatizing the classification work details.
The efforts of reclassification were executed within the framework of the re-evaluation of tourist accommodation facilities, for which SCTA began working on since it was authorized to organize this sector in accordance with the SCTA statute issued by the Council of Ministers resolution No. (78) Dated 23/03/2008.
Dr. Al Bakheet pointed out that the new system of classification is developed by the SCTA in cooperation with international experts, further more, a number of best international experiences were studied, in which the classification system for hotels is according to star grades and for furnished housing units in degrees. The new regulation has also covered all necessary factors that are required in accommodation facilities and services.
The first phase focused on the development of this process at the national level, after which comes the development of similar systems, which will be applied in Mecca and Madina, taking into account the spatial and operational conditions in those cities. The actual re-evaluation of hotel facilities in the holy cities has begun based on the new adopted standards, and it is expected to be completed before the end of 2010.
Dr. Al Bakheet said that SCTA, through this classification, aims to develop the hotel industry in the Kingdom, providing suitable investment environment and achieving the aspirations and expectations of tourists and visitors, while ensuring fairness to all parties.
He pointed out that SCTA has began its work on just two types of tourist accommodation, hotels, and furnished residential units, since they are the two most common types available.
SCTA is currently working on the preparation of the classification criteria for a number of other types of accommodation such as villas, apartment hotels, Motels, eco-lodges, chalets, and rural rest houses.
He added that, SCTA is currently dealing with thousands of existing facilities of hotels or furnished flats, and it has laid out ambitious plans for concluding the re-evaluation and re-classification processes in time. In this respect, SCTA has set up teams for the classification process in all regions of the Kingdom utilizing the Saudi youth who were trained to carefully apply the classification standards in order to ensure quality of services.
Dr. Al Bakheet explained that the most challenging factor in the re-evaluation and classification process was covering all the the hotels and furnished apartments in the Kingdom in a short period of time, but SCTA overcame it through cooperating with relevant provincial PTOs in all the regions and the classification teams. “This enabled us to accomplish our tasks in a single year in all provinces and cities of the Kingdom,” stated Dr. Al Bakheet.