HAD steps up enforcement actions against unlicensed hotels and guesthouses before Labour Day

     To prepare for the peak travelling season during the Labour Day long holiday and ensure the safety of tourists and the general public, the Office of Licensing Authority (OLA) under the Home Affairs Department (HAD) has recently stepped up enforcement actions against unlicensed hotels and guesthouses, and appeals to tourists to patronise licensed premises.

     A HAD spokesman said that, when processing a licence application, the OLA will ascertain that the premises concerned complies with structural and fire safety standards as well as the requirements on sanitary configuration, so as to ensure the safety of visitors and members of the public. Before visiting Hong Kong, tourists may look at the list of licensed hotels and guesthouses uploaded onto the webpage at www.hadla.gov.hk by the OLA.

     In addition, the OLA requires all licensed guesthouses to display a guesthouse logo at the main entrances and doors of each of the guestrooms to help tourists identify them. The OLA will continue its collaboration with the Tourism Commission, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong and Consumer Council to appeal to tourists in patronising licensed accommodation. The same message will also be conveyed to the tourism authorities of the Mainland.

     In the past week, OLA officers have already conducted a number of surprise inspections, decoy operations and large-scale inter-departmental operations in various districts. A total of 136 premises were inspected and six were suspected to have unlicensed guesthouse activities. The OLA will proceed to prosecution immediately once sufficient evidence is gathered. Two persons suspected of breaching their conditions of stay were also found during the operations and they have been referred to the Police for follow-up action. The OLA will continue to take stringent enforcement actions against unlicensed guesthouses in the next few weeks.

     In the first three months of this year, the OLA has already carried out more than 3 200 inspections targeting unlicensed guesthouses and instituted 46 prosecutions. The spokesman stressed that operating an unlicensed guesthouse is a criminal offence and will lead to a criminal record. Upon conviction, the offender is liable to a maximum fine of $200,000, two years' imprisonment, and a fine of $20,000 for each day during which the offence continues.

     Should tourists or citizens suspect any unlicensed operation of hotels and guesthouses, please do not hesitate to report them to the OLA through the hotline (tel. no.: 2881 7498), by email (hadlaenq@had.gov.hk) or by fax (fax no.: 2504 5805) using the report form downloaded from the OLA website.

Ends/Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:27