Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Tanzania, Uganda And Kenya November Deadline To Complete Classification Of Hotels, Lodges And Restaurants

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have until November to complete classification of their hotels, lodges and restaurants using the agreed upon East Africa Community criteria.

The uniform classification of hotels and the single tourist visa will make it easier for marketers to promote the region as a single tourist destination and to offer multi-destination packages.

In Kenya, hospitality facilities in 41 out of the 47 counties have been classified by the Tourism Regulatory Authority.

Only five hotels received five-star rating. No hotel in Mombasa County, a popular tourist destination, was rated five-star.

Popular brands like Serena Beach Resort, Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort, Voyager Hotel and English Point Marina were ranked as four-star.

- Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have until November to complete classification of their hotels, lodges and restaurants using the agreed upon East Africa Community criteria.
- The ranking of hotels differs from country to country and there is no international standard of ranking hotels, as each country’s ranking system is established by its authorities.
- However, the East African region in 2009 came up with common criteria to classify hotels, lodges and restaurants across the member countries.

Industry players are waiting for classification of the remaining six counties — Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kitui, Makueni and Kajiado.

Nairobi is home to international hotel brands like Radisson Blu, Villa Rosa Kempinski, Hilton, Serena, The Tribe, Sankara and Hemmingways.

Hotels in Kampala were classified in November last year, with 78 hotels assessed and 26 receiving star ratings, ranging from two to five stars.

Kampala Serena Hotel, Kampala Sheraton Hotel and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort got five-star rating.

The Ugandan Tourism Board will continue the classification process for hotels and accommodation facilities in other major towns such as Jinja, Entebbe, Mbarara and Gulu.

Commenting on the rating of hotels in Mombasa County, Mohammed Hersi, chief executive officer of Heritage Hotels, said missing the five-star rating was not a concern because four-star hotels tap into the middle-class market, which is bigger than the upper middle-class.

Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism last week announced a plan to review and rank all hotels to meet international standards.

Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Ramo Makani told the media that this is part of initiatives to boost the county’s tourism.

“Most hotels are not doing well; some of them are ranked as five-star, but do not meet the standards, and this cheating has been frustrating tourists,” he said, adding that the ministry has been receiving complaints over poor services offered by the hotels.

The ranking of hotels differs from country to country and there is no international standard of ranking hotels, as each country’s ranking system is established by its authorities.

However, the East African region in 2009 came up with common criteria to classify hotels, lodges and restaurants across the member countries.

Kenya’s Tourism Regulatory Authority director general Kipkorir Lagat said hotels that feel underrated have the option of reclassification at a cost of $500 — after they have addressed the concerns raised by the rating authority.

“A five-star rating will tell the whole world that you will get exceptional services in that particular facility, that is why we were strict on giving this rating to hotels that do not tick all the boxes. Some hotels lacked insurance cover, some were not Kenya Revenue Authority compliant, others lacked fire extinguishers, at others we had to check with the hotel’s human resource office to determine the qualification of staff, and so on other details,” Mr Kipkorir said.

The EAC criteria encompass close to 200 classification areas to be checked, ranging from obvious checks like quality of service, cleanliness, sewerage system, refuse handling system, occupational permits for the buildings and details on how often fumigation is carried out, among many others.

But even with the detailed checks, industry players have welcomed the classification, saying the ranking has come at an opportune time when the country is seeking to hosts international conferences.

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers chief executive Mike Macharia said the requirement that town hotels have a presidential suite for them to be rated five-star will give the country an upper hand when being considered to host international conference.

“Look at TICAD, we are have many presidents attending, but do we have enough hotels in the city that have a presidential suite, to accommodate these guest.” said Mr Macharia.

The agency that did the classification said a number of the hotels dropped in the ratings because they had not improved their facilities from the time when they were last rated as five-star more than a decade ago.

Big hotels located in the major cities in East Africa target delegates attending conferences, experts have been calling for attractive packages for the locals, to cover them during low meeting season.