ABU DHABI – Hotels and hotel apartments in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi have been increasingly using e-Dirham for the online payment of tourism fees in a unique facility introduced by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).

The average monthly revenue collected through the electronic payment facility has reached more than AED1 million mark after it was launched in October 2007.

Khalaf Obaid Al Matlaei, ADTA finance director, said, “ADTA is among the few government organizations which have achieved the rare distinction of carrying out such high transactions value through e-Dirham. Other traditional payment options are available for the payment of tourism fees, but the hotel establishments are increasingly choosing the e-Dirham facility as it is less time consuming and hassle-free.”

Under the provisions of Law Number 13 of 2006, up to 10 percent of hotel establishments’ total revenues are to be paid as Tourism Fee to ADTA. However, ADTA chairman, His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, ordered collection of only six percent of the hotels and hotel apartments’ total revenues as Tourism Fee, effective January 1, 2007.

Hotel establishments are responsible for the collection and accuracy of Tourism Fee against room sales, food and beverages, rentals of outlets within the establishment’s premises such as gift shop, bookshop, salon, health club, business center, laundry, garage and parking, foreign exchange, telecommunication services and other activities’ revenues. The exceptions are wedding parties, charity events, bank interest, visas and government fees.

Hotel establishments are required to make the monthly payment of the Tourism Fee no later than the 15th day of the following month along with an approved and detailed report of revenues for that month. ADTA conducts revenue audits of the hotel establishments periodically for authenticity.

Hotel establishments may also collect from customers a service charge of no more than 10 percent of the total value of the sale of goods and service, provided that they allocate no less than 20 percent of this service charge collected for the benefit of their staff by way of training courses, extra allowances or best employee awards or bonus.

The percentages should not exceed 16 percent of the customers’ bills and shall distinguish between the Tourism Fee and Service Charge, in all customers’ bills and price menus.

Abdullah Ahmed Al Marzouqi, Head of Revenue Section at ADTA, said 99 hotels and hotel apartments in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region have enrolled for the Hotel Revenue System which allows for the online payment of tourism fees through ADTA website www.abudhabitourism.ae using e-Dirham.

“Hotel establishments have been provided individual user names and passwords for using the service. After logging in, they can conduct the transactions by filling out a standard form that automatically calculates the fee based on their monthly revenues. Once the payment is made using the e-Dirham, the tourism fees goes to the UAE’s Ministry of Finance and Industry and credited into ADTA’s account within 48 hours,” he explained.

Mr. Khalaf Al Matlaei said the unique facility allows hassle-free conduct of business at any time by the hotel establishments and eliminates the possible chances of delays through the traditional methods of payment like bank checks and transfers due to holidays and procedural hold-ups.

Last year, the UAE Ministry of Finance and ADTA signed an agreement for the services of electronic payment of Tourism Fee through the MOFI’s e-payment system.

Mr. Faisal Ali Al Mansouri, Revenue Department manager at the UAE’s Ministry of Finance, praised the cooperation between the Ministry of Finance and ADTA for the use of e-Dirham for the online payment of tourism fee by hoteliers.

“The cooperation between the two government entities for the adoption of e-Dirham for online payment is a good model and its success with the hoteliers is due to the transparency and ease of procedures,” he said. “This will certainly strengthen the electronic payment platform in the country with both the government and private sector benefiting from the modern system,” he added.