HAD appeals to tourists to patronise licensed hotels and guesthouses

     With the Labour Day holidays around the corner and to ensure the safety of patrons of hotels and guesthouses as well as the general public, the Office of the Licensing Authority (OLA) of the Home Affairs Department (HAD) appeals to tourists to patronise licensed hotels and guesthouses. The OLA will also step up enforcement actions against unlicensed guesthouses starting from this week.

     A spokesman for the HAD said, "Patronising licensed hotels and guesthouses is of utmost importance to ensure tourists' safety. The OLA will ensure that the premises concerned comply with the statutory building structure and fire safety standards before issuing the licence. Tourists may view a list of licensed hotels and guesthouses in different districts through the OLA's website (www.hadla.gov.hk) or the mobile application "Hong Kong Licensed Hotels and Guesthouses" prior to making reservation for accommodation. In addition, the Licensed Guesthouse Logo Scheme launched by the OLA requires all licensed guesthouses to display a special logo at the main entrance and on the doors of all guestrooms for easy identification."

     The OLA will step up publicity efforts to urge visitors to patronise licensed guesthouses through different channels, such as broadcasting Announcements in the Public Interest (API) on TV, radio and at various immigration control points, broadcasting APIs and short videos on YouTube, and displaying posters and distributing leaflets at the control points.

     Apart from publicity, the OLA will strengthen enforcement actions against unlicensed guesthouses by conducting day and night surprise inspections, decoy operations and large-scale inter-departmental joint operations in tourist accommodation hotspots. Operations will also be mounted during public holidays.

     The spokesman stressed that operating an unlicensed guesthouse is a criminal offence. Any person convicted of the offence is liable to imprisonment and will lead to a criminal record. The maximum penalty is a fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for two years, and a fine of $20,000 for each day during which the offence continues.

     In the first three months of this year, the OLA carried out over 2 850 inspections targeting unlicensed guesthouses and instituted 48 prosecutions. The total number of convictions was 44 and the maximum penalty was two weeksˇ¦ immediate imprisonment.

     Tourists and the public with information about suspected unlicensed guesthouses may report it to the OLA by the hotline (Tel: 2881 7498), by email (hadlaenq@had.gov.hk), by fax (2504 5805) using the report form downloaded from the OLA website, or through the mobile application.

Ends/Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:02