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Macau Government launches Campaign to Combat Illegal Guesthouses

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Macau's Inter-departmental Working Group Against Illegal Guesthouses launched a promotional campaign on Wednesday to raise the awareness of residents and visitors of the potential hazards of staying in illegal accommodation.

The campaign launched by the Working Group, includes posters distribution and a reinforcing Tourism Hotline 28333000 for people to report any illegal accommodation.

As of June 24, 2009, the Working Group had carried out 28 joint inspections to combat illegal accommodation. Among the 162 apartments involved, the Working Group could not gain access to 117 apartments while 23 cases were recorded for legal action and 22 were proven to be normal residences.

The involved departments said that the major obstacle for the inspections was the difficulty to gain access to the suspected apartments. Furthermore, inadequate legal backing and authority to follow up directly with the irregularities were also difficulties encountered by the Working Group. Without relevant legal support, the departments were not able to prosecute irregularities that are hazardous to personal and property safety, public health and hygiene, fire safety and environmental conditions detected on site.

The Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) and related departments are working on the amendment of the Decree Law No. 16/96/M (regulation applicable to hotels and similar activities). Amendments to the regulations include, among other clauses, the establishment of a category of illegal activities to characterize illegal accommodation, authorizing inspectors access to the "suspected apartments", defining the responsible person who should answer for and bear charges for the irregularities.

Members of the Inter-departmental Working Group Against "Illegal Guesthouses" include the Cabinet of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Macau Government Tourist Office, Public Security Police Force, Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau, Legal Affairs Bureau, Financial Service Bureau, Labor Affairs Bureau, Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute, Fire Service Bureau, Health Bureau, Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau and Environmental Protection Bureau.

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