More than a thousand people have been granted licences to operate as social media influencers in the UAE since new laws regulating the industry were brought into force last year.
Influencers must apply for a trade licence and an e-media licence at a cost of Dh15,000 to post content promoting brands on social media, under rules introduced by the National Media Council in March last year.
Hoteliers — who have previously hit out at a 'freebie culture' of influencers demanding exorbitant fees, meals and stays in exchange for publicity — said the move ensures greater accountability and has helped to root out rogue influencers.
The NMC urged hotels and businesses to work only with those who have acquired licences.
During a conference in Dubai on Wednesday, Ibrahim Khadim, director of media content at the NMC, said about 1,700 influencers have secured licences since their introduction.
He said a number of unlicensed influencers had been hit with fines for breaching the regulations, though he said exact figures were not yet available.
Jenson Samuel, marketing and e-commerce manager at Mercure Dubai Barsha Heights hotel, said the initiative had driven up standards.
"I think the process has helped filter the system because you had so many people who had social media accounts but lacked quality. The licence helps us to recognise skills and niche talents," said Mr Samuel.
Mr Samuel said the new regulations had given the growing industry an extra air of professionalism, with many influencers now pitching for business by delivering presentations and sending in detailed proposals to prospective clients.
Before the licences were rolled out, Mr Samuel said he noticed influencers would turn up with extra guests in the hope of getting a free meal.
“While some hotels let it go, others said they would not cover the additional cost. Some influencers were respectful and agreed to cover the cost while others created a drama."
Caroline Rowe, a hospitality marketing professional with 15 years of experience and director of brand marketing at The First Group in Dubai, said the introduction of licences has had a positive impact.
"The more organisation and accountability there is, the better," said Ms Rowe.
"It makes it easier for hotels to recognise the right people to work with."
Terje Abrams, public relations manager at Fairmont Dubai, said the regulations give businesses "peace of mind" and the confidence to place their faith in social media influencers.