The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) is taking the right action by issuing a fresh warning to some owners of hotels and furnished apartments to abide by recently introduced regulations, including the mandatory display of prices and services offered by their establishments.
This comes in the wake of clear violations by several owners, as reported in this newspaper a few days ago in Taif, Makkah, Madina and Jeddah. It is likely that a similar situation exists elsewhere.
At the outset, it must be made clear this is not a case of bashing business. The SCTA is simply doing its job to protect the country’s growing, multibillion riyal, domestic and international tourism industry. This is vital for this country seeking to diversify its economy away from its current dependence on fossil fuels. The SCTA is also seeking to protect the consumer, including citizens and those coming on Umrah and Haj. They deserve good service.
The situation is worrying. In Taif, one of the most popular resort cities in the Kingdom, it was found that owners of hotels and furnished apartments were ignoring the SCTA rules on charges and services. There were no tariff lists at the entrances of many establishments and no promised services and facilities clearly spelt out in the brochures. There was also an expensive tariff structure and charges for services not provided.
Most accommodation providers in Taif also disregarded directives to ensure they stipulate a maximum charge for rooms in accordance with their star rating in addition to special charges for peak seasons.
Many occupants also protested about service charges of up to 10 percent levied by most of these hotels and apartments.
Another problem is that it appears some SCTA officials are not carrying out their duty by enforcing compliance. Our report found that some SCTA officials visited some establishments but did not insist on the proper display of charges and services.
So while the SCTA leadership is taking the proper action, there should also be clear instructions given to employees further down the chain of command to carry out their duty properly.
Owners of these establishments should also realize that they can make tidy profits but must have the interests of the country’s economy at heart.