Hotel establishments: follow millions of annual customers and maintain security
Hotel establishments: an overview
The United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) has long been recognized as a leading tourism and leisure destination. Over the past decade, the hospitality and tourism sector has experienced rapid and continuous growth, becoming a critical factor in the UAE’s successful economic expansion strategy.
In 2017, the hospitality and tourism sector was estimated to contribute over AED 150 billion (US $ 41 billion) to GDP (4.6% of GDP) and provide nearly 570,000 jobs, or 4.8% of total employment.
According to the Competitiveness and Statistics Authority of the United Arab Emirates, the country welcomed 20.4 million hotel guests in 2017, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
The total number of overnight stays increased 155% over the past 10 years through 2017 to 70.9 million, while the supply of hotel rooms nationwide is expected to increase to around 165,000 by this year. year.
At the same time, the UAE has also been ranked as the safest country in the world; Considering the number of people entering and leaving the UAE through the hospitality and tourism industry, how does the UAE keep up with guests staying at hotels while ensuring flawless stays?
Approval of hotel establishments
Initially, hotel establishments in Dubai were regulated by a number of legislative texts, mainly Decree No. 17 of 2013 concerning the licensing and specification of hotel establishments in Dubai (“HE Decree”) .
In accordance with the ES Decree, hotel establishments include, but are not limited to, hotels, aparthotels, hostels and student dormitories (“hotel establishments”), and are licensed and regulated by the Department of Tourism and Business Marketing (“DTCM”).
In addition to licensing hotel establishments, the DTCM (among others) oversees the activities of hotel establishments, classifies them from five stars to tourism in accordance with international standards and oversees the implementation of required security procedures for guests. in the United Arab Emirates.
Guest registration: Computer program
Following Decree No. 13 of 2011 Regarding the Electronic Program for Hotel and Tourism Facilities in Dubai, all hotel establishments in Dubai are required to adopt and operate a Hotel Establishment Information System program (“Program ‘), And operate such a program and enter the appropriate information in order to be electronically linked to any government institution or authority.
The specifications of the program are determined by the Dubai Police Headquarters (‘DPGH’).
All hotel establishments are required to install appropriate computers and hardware and software that meet the specifications of the DPGH programs.
The main objective of the program is to ensure that the facility is linked to Dubai Police for Security and Information, as well as other relevant government departments including (but not limited to ) the DTCM, in particular for the purpose of recording information and obtaining fees, including the Tourism Dirham (specified below).
The DPGH prepares the Program and supervises its operation, maintenance and development. The DPGH also ensures that the program is linked to the required government departments and public bodies and institutions, as needed (which include for example, but not limited to, the Department of Economic Development, the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs-Dubai, and the Roads and Transport Authority, and DTCM).
Subscription and program operation
To subscribe to the Program, Hotel Establishments are required to submit a request to the DTCM.
The duration of the Program subscription is for the same period prescribed for the institution’s license, which is usually one year, and the annual Program subscription fee is AED 3,000 (USD 800). for hotel facilities and 1,500 AED (US $ 400) for tourist facilities, payable to DTCM.
Hotel Establishments are not authorized to welcome customers if they have not subscribed to the Program, and a Hotel Establishment’s license will not be renewed unless its subscription to the Program is renewed, and will be subject to penalties. in the event of non-compliance with these conditions.
Once the program is obtained, hotels are required to obtain a dial-up line from Etisalat (the telecommunications company) so that their computers and software can be used only for systems needs. The line must be used exclusively for the Program and will be linked to the DPGH and other government departments concerned.
All employees of the hotel establishment must be trained in the use of the program and must ensure that all guests provide the information required to participate in the program.
When checking in at the hotel establishment, the respective guest’s information must be entered into the program, which is connected to the DPGH and other government authorities and bodies. The information required by each of the DPGH, DTCM and other government authorities will be stipulated in the Program and accessible on it.
It is mandatory that copies of passports (for tourists) and UAE ID cards or UAE diving licenses (for UAE residents) be taken for all guests staying at the hotel .
Additional information including, for example, email address, residence address and occupation can be obtained from any of the guests.
To ensure the security, confidentiality and confidentiality of guest data, applicable laws stipulate that the information and data contained in the program is considered confidential, and all workers of the establishment are prohibited from using said information. data for purposes other than those for which they are designated.
In addition to ensuring that guest information is recorded in the program, hotel establishments must ensure that their guests comply with applicable laws and pay all applicable fees. To do this, customers are not allowed to check-in at a hotel establishment without covering the cost of the stay by any of the following methods:
- cash advance deposit;
- credit card pre-authorization for an amount equivalent to these expenses;
- prepaid voucher issued by a travel agency or a tour operator approved by a Hotel Establishment; Where
- a letter from the customer’s company, approved by a Hotel Establishment, guaranteeing full or partial payment of the customer’s bill.
In addition, and in accordance with Executive Council Resolution No. 2 of 2014, approving the Dirham Tourism Fee in the Emirate of Dubai, guests will also be required to pay a “Dirham Tourism Fee” for each night of occupancy. in a hotel establishment. Tourism fees were introduced as a way to help fund Dubai Expo 2020 projects.
The applicable Dirham Tourist Fee differs according to the classification category of the Hotel Establishment. For example, the tourism fee in dirham for five star or higher rated hotels or resorts is AED 20 ($ 6) per night, for four star hotels or resorts is AED 15 ($ 4) per night, and for two at three star hotels its 10 AED (3 USD) per night.
Tourism fees in dirham must be paid by the customer upon check-in with the above payments.
In the event that customers refrain from paying the applicable charges (i.e. the Tourism Dirham, or hotel accommodation costs, or any other applicable accommodation costs), a Hotel Establishment must take the following measures:
- suspend the customer’s credit card on the premises of the hotel establishment and request payment for the service in cash;
- ask the customer to leave their room or apartment and double-lock it with the luggage inside;
- in the event of failure of negotiations to settle the amount due, the hotel establishment may appeal to the customer’s embassy or company, or otherwise, to the Dubai Police; Where
- finally, if the hotel establishment keeps the client’s passport (which is the case when it comes to a sponsorship visa), the hotel will be required to present the passport to the police, or to the company of the client, or to the respective embassy.
Hotel establishments that violate the above will be subject to fines ranging from AED 1,000 (USD 270) to AED 10,000 (USD 2,700).
For example, the penalty for non-subscription or non-renewal of the Program subscription on the operation of devices despite their availability is AED 1,000 (US $ 270), while the penalty for disclosing confidential information is of 10,000 AED (US $ 2,700).
Said fines may be doubled in the event of a repeat offense within one year of the commission of the previous offense, with a limit on the value of the fine capped at 40,000 AED (10,900 USD).
Other penalties include closing the facility for a period not exceeding three months.
The United Arab Emirates, and in particular Dubai, has one of the highest numbers of hotel rooms in the world as it is one of the most visited destinations in the world. The UAE hospitality market is expected to reach US $ 7.6 billion by 2022, with a five-year CAGR of 8.5% between 2017 and 2022.
To ensure that Dubai keeps a record of all such guests and ultimately preserves its security, the DTCM introduced the program, which ensures that all guest information is recorded, maintained and accessible by police in Dubai as well as by all respective government authorities.
All clients are required to provide copies of their passport, as well as a down payment for their stay as well as payment of the applicable tourist tax.
This ensures that no disputes arise between hotel establishments and guests at the end of their respective stay, that security is maintained within the emirate and that the benefits of the hospitality and tourism sector are realized, which ultimately leads to the growth of sectors.