The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) recently inaugurated the classification of furnished apartments and units in line with its classification efforts for all the tourism accommodation facilities throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The furnished accommodation classification is a continuation of the classification of hotels that was already announced on March 29, 2010.
His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, president of SCTA, pointed out that the purpose of employing the classification is to identify and characterize the level of services provided by these units and ensure a balance between the interests of investors and consumers rights and to link price level with the services provided to improve the tourism accommodation sector. HRH indicated that the development of classification for furnished units has been done in collaboration with international expertise and after exploring the practices in many advanced countries in this field. HRH added that it was also largely discussed with many relevant government authorities. Many workshops were held in partnership with the private sector in order to review their remarks in this respect.
The improved classification system has covered the required specifications that are necessary to be offered in accommodation facilities in their different components and services due to the degree of classification.
HRH also referred to the importance of participation of private sector and hotel companies in the establishment of qualified companies in order to manage and operate furnished flats and units in an effort to improve the level of service in these units and become an area providing job opportunities in this sector. HRH referred to the National Project for Tourism Human Resources Development (Takamul) as an active partner with SCTA in this respect, and more than 20,000 jobs are expected to be provided through furnished flat units during the next two years.
Since SCTA was given the authority to supervise the tourism accommodation sectors’ facilities, it adopted a comprehensive program for the development of this sector. The program includes a number of elements comprising improvement of service quality, investment stimulation, Saudization of jobs, and providing comprehensive information on this sector. SCTA inaugurated classification of hotels in mid-March last year. Noteworthy, SCTA declared a period of one-and-a-half years as the deadline for hotels to settle their cases according to the new criteria before the final and actual enforcement of these criteria are on the ground.
Regarding classification of tourism accommodation’s facilities in Makka and Al Madina, HRH stated that SCTA has issued special criteria for hotels and furnished flats in the two holy cities. SCTA is now undertaking re-evaluation of all hotels and furnished flats across Makka and Al Madina which represent 70 percent of the total of accommodation facilities across the Kingdom. Furnished flats and hotels in Makka and Al Madian are expected to be classified by the end of 2010.
HRH, president of SCTA reasserted that SCTA’s keenness through its different efforts is to ensure providing the best services in the tourism accommodation sector in order to fulfill expectations of visitors to the Two Holy Mosques, He further indicated that the Kingdom is honored by their visits and their observation of the status of the two holy cities, and he indicated that they are developing services that are provided under the supervision of the SCTA.
Additionally, the new pricing policy for tourism accommodation facilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been approved. The new pricing policy was laid out in accordance with current hotel regulations and its executive regulations.
SCTA has stressed the importance of observing the new pricing policies of tourism accommodation facilities services (hotels and furnished flats).
Dr. Salah Al Bakheet, vice president of investment for SCTA, said in this connection, the new pricing policy was circulated to accommodation facilities to be observed by them starting from June 13, 2010. He further stated that hotel statutes and executive regulations fully assign authority to SCTA to determine hotel services’ prices.
Dr. Al Bakheet added that the new pricing developed in accordance with the current statute of hotels and its executive regulations and SCTA is not entitled to change the pricing policy of tourism accommodation in the Kingdom unless a tourism general regulation is issued, which is expected to create more flexible pricing policy towards dealing with supply and demand in the hotel sector.