Creative Streamlining Enables Smoother Hotel Operation

Hong Kong, small as it is, is renowned in providing visitors with the world’s most top-rated and deluxe hotels. According to the statistics of the Home Affairs Department’s (HAD), the total number of hotels/guesthouses in Hong Kong in 2008 was 1280, a 3.3% increase from the previous year. In efforts to support the operation and development of the hotel trade, the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit (EABFU) has established a Business Liaison Group (BLG) for the hotel trade. The BLG serves as a platform for the trade to exchange views on licensing and regulatory issues with government representatives. Issues are discussed and clarified at BLG meetings, and the deliberations have led to the implementation of measures conducive to the business environment.

Streamlined Licence Applications

To start business, hotels in Hong Kong have to obtain several dozens of different licences. Since some of the licences are not specially designed for the hotel industry, some of the licensing requirements of these licences do not align with hotel operation, and some of the uniqueness of the hotel industry is not taken into account in the application procedures. Sometimes the trade is also confused by the ambiguities in certain licensing regulations and application procedures.

To create a better business environment for the industry, concerned government departments have implemented various measures to streamline the application and processing procedures for various hotel-related licences. HAD and Fire Services Department (FSD) for example, have introduced the Business Facilitation Officer system as a response to the views raised by the trade. FSD has also enhanced the transparency in the inspection system.

Relaxed Regulations and Simplified Procedures

In the past, hotels were required to submit their layout plans and other relevant information to FSD via HAD when applying for the installation of ventilation system. After the completion of the installation, the applicant was required to notify HAD, HAD would then notify FSD. FSD would send inspection officer for on-field inspection within 21 working days after receiving the notification and the installation layout plan from HAD. There were delays in document transferrals between the departments occasionally. Having considered the trade’s comments on the issue at the BLG meetings, HAD and FSD have simplified the procedures by allowing applicants to submit a certificate of completion for ventilation system directly to FSD with a copy sent to HAD. The application time is thus shortened.

Requirements of Regulations Clarified

Besides the promotion of the above mentioned measures, there are discussions on the regulatory issues relevant to the trade at the BLG meetings. There were clarifications on issues such as outside seating accommodation, lighting requirements for swimming pools, and stipulations on massage facilities. All these measures aim at facilitating and improving the operation of the hotel trade.

Bureaux and departments involved: Home Affairs Department, Fire Services Department, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department
Last revision date: January 2017
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