Tougher new penalties on violators of tourism rules

TOUGH new punishments and heavy fines will be imposed on tourism property owners and operators who contravene rules and regulations, as part of a royal decree.

Violators could have the classification of their facilities downgraded. Outlets could be temporarily closed or have their licences revoked, and the owners could face jail terms of up to six months and slapped with administrative fines totalling a maximum of BD30,000.

His Majesty King Hamad yesterday issued Decree Law (16) of 2023 amending some provisions of Decree (15) of 1986 regarding the regulation of tourism, based on a proposal by the Prime Minister, and after the approval of the Cabinet.

The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) will take action against rogue operators, while any grievances may be appealed before a specialised court as part of the new direction.

Article one:

The texts of Articles (4), (5) and (11 bis) of Decree (15) of 1986 regarding the regulation of tourism shall be replaced with the following text:

Article (4):

1- Without prejudice to civil or criminal liability, the BTEA may, upon violation of the provisions of this law and the decisions implementing its provisions, issue a decision imposing one of the following administrative penalties:

a- Issue a written warning to the violator.

b- Impose restrictions or requirements on the services provided by the licensee, or on the licence, to ensure the protection of the tourism sector.

c- Downgrade the classification of the tourist facility.

d- Temporarily suspend the licence for the tourist facility or any of the activities licensed in the tourist facility for a period not exceeding three months.

e- Shutting down the tourist establishment partially or completely until the reasons for the violation are eliminated.

f- Revoking the licence.

g- Imposing an administrative fine calculated on a daily basis to force the violator to stop the violation and remove its causes, not exceeding BD100 per day if the violation is committed for the first time, and BD200 per day if the same violation is repeated within three years from the date of issuing the decision against him for the violation.

In all cases, the total administrative fine may not exceed BD20,000.

h- Imposing a total administrative fine not exceeding BD30,000. When imposing the penalty, the gravity of the violation, the obstinacy shown by the violator, the benefits he reaped, and the harm caused to others as a result must be taken into account.

2- The Minister shall issue an edict specifying the violations which entail administrative fines, and the value of those fines. The Authority may also impose any of the penalties stipulated in clauses (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6) of Paragraph (A) of this Article when imposing a fine.

3- The Authority may publish a statement on the violation that has been proven to have occurred, using the means and method determined by the decision on the violation, in proportion to its gravity. The statement shall not be published until after the deadline for appealing the authority’s decision has lapsed or a final ruling has been issued proving the violation, as the case may be.

Article (5): A grievance addressed to the minister may be made against any decision issued based on the provisions of this law within 30 days from the date of the decision. The grievance will be decided upon within 20 days from the date of submitting the grievance. The expiry of the period without deciding on the grievance is considered an implicit rejection.

Grievances rejected, explicitly or implicitly, may be appealed before the specialised court within 60 days from the date of notifying the violation or from the date the grievance is considered rejected.

The decision imposing a fine shall have the force of an executive document upon the expiry of the period referred to in the previous paragraph unless the court orders its implementation to be suspended.

Article (11 bis): Violations of the provisions of Articles (2) and (3) of this law or the decisions implementing its provisions shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months and a fine of not less than BD500 and not exceeding BD50,000, or one of these two penalties.

The court may shut down the facility.

The penalty shall be imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months and a fine of not less than BD1,000 and not exceeding BD3,000 or one of these two penalties for anyone who violates the provisions of Article (2) with regard to tourism services not subject to tourist fees.

In all cases, the court must shut down the facility in the event that tourism activity is practised without a licence. In both cases, recidivism is considered an aggravating circumstance.

In all of the above, except in the case of recidivism, reconciliation may be made before the authority in the crimes stipulated in Articles (2) and (3) of this law or the decisions implementing its provisions, by paying the minimum prescribed fine, in accordance with the controls, procedures and period within which a decision is issued by the minister. The criminal case ends through reconciliation.

The Prime Minister shall implement the provisions of this decree, which comes into force upon its publication in the Official Gazette.




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