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While some Dubai residents living in hotel apartments scored a minor victory when a new law that charges daily fees to hotel and hotel apartment guests was amended to reduce charges, long-stay tenants are asking for further changes to the law that would altogether exempt them from the fees.
The Tourism Dirham, which took effect in April, is a fee collected by hotels and passed on to Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). The government-imposed fees range from Dh7-Dh20 per room (as opposed to per unit) per night and revenues generated from the Tourism Dirham will be used to fund various tourism projects in the emirate.
While the new law targets tourists, many UAE residents living in hotel apartments are complaining as they also have to pay the charges in addition to their annual lease and any rent increases.
One resident at the World Trade Centre Hotel Apartments, who requested anonymity, tells Property Weekly the additional fee meant an increase of more than Dh7,000 per year for his two-bedroom apartment.
"It is ridiculous," he says. "I asked the hotel management for an explanation on why residents were being charged a fee created for tourists and they said it was now a law and there was nothing they could do about it. The rent increases had also spiked dramatically - they came all at once."
The resident in question was among numerous tenants at the World Trade Centre Hotel Apartments who refused to pay the extra fees and instead asked for more clarity on the new law. After a brief stand-oft the annual fee was dropped, but the residents still had to pay a daily charge for a maximum of 30 days per year. The tenants said they were not given any reason for the change in policy.
Contacted by PW, lssam Nizam, General Manager of Dubai Trade Centre Hotel Apartments, says: "We worked closely with the DTCM to offset the fees on annual lease tenants for us to remain competitive. As such, the DTCM capped the fee at a maximum of 30 days for these tenants.
"We are pleased with this decision, as are our tenants, and are happy to have come to a positive solution that works for all parties."
Announcing the Tourism Dirham, the DTCM stated it is a minimal charge applied to guests staying in all hotels and hotel apartments in Dubai. The new law does not distinguish between guests who have residency visas and those staying as tourists.
Sought for comment, Ahmad Al Falasi, CEO of Support Services at the DTCM, tells PW: "Any guest [who] exceeds a 30-day stay in a hotel establishment will only incur the Tourism Dirham charge for the first 30 consecutive days of the stay. The hotel cannot charge the guest the Tourism Dirham after this time."
Most hotel apartments contacted by PW charge the Tourism Dirham for a maximum of 30 days. Legacy Hotel Apartments, for instance, charges Dh 10 per night per room, while Yassat Gloria Hotel Apartments charges Dh20 per night per room. But there are hotel apartments that are still charging annual fees for the Tourism Dirham.
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Source: Clint Martell, Special to Property Weekly