Hotel owners hit out at safety law

Louis Won

HOTEL owners fear they will lose their licences if they do not modify their premises to comply with new safety requirements.

In a meeting with the Legislative Council panel on Community and New Territories Affairs yesterday, hotel owners' representative Michael Li Hon-shing said the Government had taken a rigid attitude towards licence renewal, after promising to handle applications with flexibility.

''While the CNTA [City and New Territories Administration] says we can have our licences renewed if we go by the policy guidelines, the Licensing Authority is so rigid they won't renew our licences unless we comply with the standards of the new ordinance.

''It is unfair and unreasonable for the Government to require the hotels to undergo major reconstruction to meet the new standards of the new ordinance which is considered unnecessarily high,'' Mr Li said.

He said hotels met the fire and safety requirements of the Building Ordinance and the Fire Services Ordinance at the time of their construction, and should be exempt from the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance which took effect on September 1.

Secretary for Home Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung said the Government would discuss the problems with owners, since ''the spirit of the new ordinance is to make sure hotels are safe but not make them have major reconstruction''.