MPs on Tuesday decided to rush through the plenum this week a bill extending a grace period for hotels to obtain a full operating license, as at the moment more than 90 per cent lack such a permit.

Parliamentarians want to vote through the bill at the next plenary session this coming Thursday – the last plenary before the House adjourns for the upcoming local government elections in early June.

The legislative proposal – co-sponsored by Diko, Dipa, Edek and the Greens – will extend to the end of the year a transitional period granted to hotels and similar tourist premises to secure an operating permit.

The five-year transitional period, afforded back in March 2019, elapsed in mid-March this year.

In remarks in parliament, Deputy Tourism Minister Costas Koumis said that currently over 90 per cent of hotel businesses are not able to secure the required certificates for a full operating license.

The issue, he explained, is that most hotels have expanded their premises or made renovations during the tourism boom but have not secured the required permits for these expansions.

The bill before the House provides for extending the transitional period for hotels to comply to the end of 2024. There is, however, an exemption for hotels which in the meantime submit ‘as-built’ plans to the relevant authorities.

‘As-built’ plans show the building exactly as it currently is, as opposed to a design drawing which shows the intended or proposed layout of the building. They are revised sets of drawings submitted by a contractor upon the completion of the project. They reflect all the changes made during the construction process and provide an exact rendering of the finished product.

Koumis said he agreed with the legislative proposal, as it goes some way towards fixing the problem with hotels lacking a full operating license. Also on board were the hoteliers association and the fire department, despite some lingering concerns that the bill does not include adequate provisions relating to fire safety regulations.

MPs also heard that because the law as it stands did not provide for sanctions on hotels for failure to secure a full operating license, most waited until the last moment to comply.