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29 February 2024

New draft law to classify hotels as per their services

Hotels in Dubai have welcomed the new classification and licencing law. (IMAD ALAEDDIN)

By Nina Varghese

The hospitality industry in Dubai is keenly awaiting the reclassification and licencing law for Dubai hotels by Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) as it would help them market their properties more effectively, said senior hospitality industry executives.

The new classification and licencing law for Dubai hotels, which is being formulated by DTCM and has been under review for over a year, is likely to be announced soon, said sources.

Majid Al Marri, DTCM's Director of Classification at Licencing and Classification Division, told Emirates Business: "The existing law on hotels classification and licencing is currently under review due to the rapid transformation of the tourism industry, especially increase in hotels portfolio, in the emirate. It will be made public after approval from higher authorities."

It is learnt that the law will include 15 different categories of hotels, including business, spa, convention, boutique, desert resort and heritage hotel.

Sources said that this time the reclassification would be based on services that hotels offer and not just facilities like the earlier one.

The authorities would approve the final draft before it is made public. The draft was also circulated among industry professionals.

The law will include new categories of hotel establishments and the requirements for obtaining star ratings for hotel establishments are also being looked at under the proposed changes to the law.

"In the new law that is in works, there will be no specific category for the Shariah-compliant properties. Shariah-compliant hotels are basically themed properties focused more on marketing and USPs," he said.

The hospitality industry in Dubai has evolved with new kinds of hotels and resorts coming into the market, since the earlier classification in 1998, a senior hotel industry executive said.

He said since then there have been hotels launched that are even more deluxe than the standards set for five-star hotels.

"It is a great initiative and long over due, especially as the market is shifting," said Hassan Abdoh, Area Director, Sales and Marketing, Holiday Inn Express.

Abdoh said," There has to be a new way to classify new players like the Holiday Inn Express. Unfortunately, the Holiday Inn Express has been classified as a two-star hotel, while some of the old hotels in Deira are marketed as four stars. For instance, in the present classification, the four-star bathroom has to have a bathtub. While the market requirement is for a modern bathroom with a shower cubicle, which is safer, and more hygienic.

Guy Wilkinson, General Manager, Viability Management Consultants, a hospitality consultancy, said: "The new system is likely to be much more comprehensive one than the earlier and includes a lot more hotel categories, which is very important for the end users in the business distribution chain such as travel agents, airlines and tour operators." The classification of hotels helps end users decide on which hotel to choose and also brings in a level of standardisation. Wilkinson said: "The difference between a business hotel and a convention hotel might seem very fine but are actually big when a tour operator or travel agent makes a booking with his client's preferences in mind.

"The new system also looks at the different kinds of five star, hotel apartments and hybrids like hotels which are also apartments and five star deluxe hotel residences."

The industry has been waiting for the reclassification as it would help them gear up their marketing, especially during the crisis.

Mohammed Abdul Jalil, Government Affairs Manager, Coral Hotels and Resorts said: "This would definitely help to standardise products, while ensuring high quality and value to consumers. On another note, it would be excellent for hotels if DTCM can consider to give few months grace period to implement new classification in hotels in order to honour existing contracts with tour operators and destination management companies."

Consultants said many of the tour groups and visitors especially from Western destinations are keen to know that the hotels they stay in have implemented environment friendly measures.

Jan Peter van der Ree, General Manager, Grand Hyatt Dubai said: "One aspect that should be considered in the reclassification is the environmental initiatives of the hotel. Grand Hyatt Dubai for instance is focusing on green initiatives and these aspects will certainly influence the traveller's decisions more in the future."