Hotels ‘hit by tourism rules’


(TVLW) CHEAPER hotels in Bahrain are being unfairly targeted by tourism authorities, according to a society representing hoteliers and restaurateurs.

The body claims stricter tourism rules are not being enforced at the country’s top hotels and is demanding all hotels be treated equally.

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The Bahrain Society of Hotels and Restaurants Owners is also appealing to the Information Ministry’s Tourism Affairs to consult them before orders affecting their livelihoods are issued.

New rules that came in earlier this year ban some hotels from recruiting foreign singers and bands, as well as suspend their licences for Arab and foreign entertainment shows.

More than 70 hotels are affected by these new measures.

Another order that bans hotels and restaurants in residential areas, near mosques and schools from selling alcohol and operating discos came into effect on May 1.

Hotels and restaurants affected were notified by letter, but the society filed an appeal against these orders in March and the case is still in court.

It also filed a second motion calling for the orders to be suspended until the first case is resolved.

“The main problem is they need to take action against all hotels – not just one, two and three-star hotels and leave the rest,” society president Ahmed Sanad told the GDN yesterday.

“The action they take must be for all – it’s unfair.

“They speak about alcohol, but we buy it from suppliers – why don’t they close these shops before us?

“They say that girls come to the hotel, but who gave the girls a visa? They (the authorities) did.

“And when they come where do they stay? They stay in a hotel or a flat and if they meet anyone in the hotel and do anything with them – it’s not my mistake as a hotelier.

“We don’t know who sponsors these girls. The authorities give visas and the visas are not under my name as a hotelier.”

In its first court case the society is demanding the government orders be frozen until hotels are in a position to follow them.

It also wants compensation for both hotels owners and Bahraini employees affected – claiming that 87 hotels and 5,000 Bahraini jobs are at risk.

It is calling for the order to be put on hold until a committee comprising the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tourism Affairs and the society has been formed to help the transition of hotels and reduce job losses.

It also wants hotels to be given at least five years to comply so they can adjust and fulfil financial obligations with the banks.

The society claims the two orders are unlawful and impinge on the rights of hotel owners, their Bahraini employees and foreign investors.

“In the near future we will start negotiations with them (Tourism Affairs), but nothing has happened so far,” said Mr Sanad.

“The important thing is they must form a committee comprising the Tourism Affairs and Information Ministry, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry and our society before they put out circulars to hotels.

“I hope our new minister will do something for our benefit.”

The society’s next court hearing is on December 31. Officials from the Information Ministry and Tourism Affairs were not available for comment yesterday.