22 May 2007

Tanzania: Country Starts Grading Hotels, Restaurants By Star System

Nairobi — Tanzania will from this week grade hotels, restaurants and tourist establishments in the country to conform to the internationally recognised star-rating system.

It will be the second East African Community member country to implement the regional standardisation process after Uganda, which did it in February. Kenya will follow in June.

The hotel classification and standardisation criteria were developed by the panel of experts EAC and approved by the Council of Ministers in November 2006.

Didakus Kasunga, director of Tourism in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, told The EastAfrican that the same team of experts who carried out the classification in Uganda will do the grading in Tanzania.

He said the new criteria will supersede all other existing criteria in the region.

"The government has completed evaluation inventory of all hotels and had the testing done by April," he said. The inventory classified town and country hotels depending on their locations. "But in the case of establishments that were not specifically attracting holiday visitors - such as motels and town hotels - it was suggested that they be classified under the general term 'hotel' and individual operators determine their segment in the market."

The grading, which is being done under the auspices of the East African Community, is aimed at attracting more tourists to the region and is applicable in the five EAC member states of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi.

Saleh Pamba, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, told The EastAfrican in an exclusive interview that the grading will start in May 28 in Arusha, and thereafter on all other tourist facilities in the country in the next financial year.

According to Mr Pamba, a joint panel of experts drawn from the hotel and tourism sectors of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania will be involved in the grading and is expected to last several weeks.

"The classification system will allow travellers to predetermine the type, quality and standards offered by hotels, bed-and-breakfast accommodations, lodges and even camping sites," he said.

He added that the new regulation will replace the outdated 1984 regulation that did not have a stars-grading criteria.

The EAC classification will follow the international one, with the lowest grade being a one-Star.

The National Bureau of Statistics and the Tourism Division of Tanzania estimates that the country earns more than $740 million in foreign exchange from international tourism, and receives just over 525,000 tourists annually.

The tourism industry in Tanzania contributes nearly 25 per cent of the growth domestic product (GDP) and offers direct employment to 200,700 people.

Tanzania and Uganda did not have a proper hotel grading system in place, which experts say gave Kenya an edge as a tourist destination.

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