By Antonis Loizou FRICS
IT NEVER ceases to amaze us the indifference of associations, professional bodies, government and others regarding crucial aspects of the building industry.
We make a point of informing the interior minister about problems we become aware of in addition to approaching various professional bodies for support. Out of these efforts the results are limited to being listened to from time to time.
Recently the Hoteliers Association has raised two major issues:
The Certificate of Final Approval
Most of the hotels (maybe even as many as 90 per cent) do not have this certificate (CFA) and this is due to the constant changes and alterations that take place in hotels. Minor or not, the time that it takes to get such altered permits is so long that applicants do not even bother. No building is supposed to be occupied unless a CFA has been secured.
We have warned the last three ministers on the subject, informing them of the dangers, adding that even if we do not pay much attention foreign investors and tourist operators will not play along.
What we suggest is use of the hotel is linked to a safety certificate rather than the CFA, which could be issued by the project architect. Recently tour operators have raised the issue and claim their own insurance companies will not cover their clients if there is no CFA. The argument is valid.
What is shocking is that the Hotels Association has just woken up to this subject and we hope that it is not too late. For those who might not agree with our idea of a safety certificate (which is to be issued by the architect) let’s adopt this until some other ideas are found. The safety certificate would relate to the structural stability of the building, the electrical and mechanical installation and the fire regulations.
Just imagine if one of our competitors from abroad reported this to the tour operators, would we have a leg to stand on?
Villas to let
On another note, every year for at least the last four years we have warned against the unfair competition that villas to let have against hotels and licensed establishments. We must have written to several letters to the interior minister, the Hotels Association, the CTO etc explaining to them that villas to let are illegal (they must be let for more than 30 days to one tenant based on prevailing laws) and the income is not declared, thus losing the government millions in taxes.
This is a serious problem since recent reports suggest that approximately 300,000 foreign visitors do not stay in hotel establishments.
Villas to let can be a much cheaper option for tourists than hotels with their own pluses and minuses. We do not suggest that this alternative form of tourism should shut down (it has negative side effects for investors), but it should be controlled to keep fair competition and encourage further tourism development, which we need.
The situation on these two subjects reminds us of the Oscar winning film Good Morning Vietnam, which woke the US public up when they realised how many marines had been killed.