Bahrain hoteliers push for a 'fairer deal' from government
Hoteliers in Bahrain are pushing for a fairer deal from the government, under a long-term blueprint for the tourism industry.They want an end to what they say are arbitrary edicts from tourism officials, governing how hotels conduct their business. They also want the same rules for all hotels, including the five-star establishments. The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry tourism committee held an open forum last month, which drew dozens of private hospitality and tourism industry executives. Chamber tourism committee chairman Abdul Hakeem Al Shammary said they drew up a 14-point draft recommendation, which was submitted to the Tourism Affairs Directorate. The committee has requested formal government recognition for its role as a leading and instrumental voice of Bahrain's hospitality sector. "We have also asked for the creation of a tourism strategy, setting long-term national aims and goals that serve as a guideline for private sector infrastructure development," said Al Shammary. He said the committee had requested that the government not enact further legislation governing hotel entertainment without first studying the impact such rules and regulations may have on the flow of tourism. "We have also asked that the Government not differentiate between five-star and non five-star properties when it comes to setting new guidelines that will have an impact on business," he said. New rules were announced earlier, curbing the type of live entertainment hotels could provide. This followed hot on the heels of a ruling banning the sale of flower garlands for customers to give to band members on stage. Al Shammary said the committee had requested additional information on the status of the proposed public beach. "We also want the Immigration and Passports Directorate to be more flexible in issuing tourist visas, notably for visitors from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Libya, Morocco and Sudan," he added. "Likewise, we would like the government to revoke current tourist visa restrictions placed on other nationalities, especially for those who are already legal expatriate residents in other Gulf countries." Al Shammary said the committee had emphasised the importance of securing the long-term strategy tourism blueprints that were drafted in the 1990s.