5 May 2013

Ethiopia: Hotel Standards to Be Implemented in Three Months

The long awaited standards and requirements for hotels, restaurants, lodges and motels will be implemented within the coming three months.

The Ministry of Culture & Tourism (MoCT) has been conducting the study and is about to complete it, according to an official.

"We will be undertaking the pilot project on selected hotels, restaurants and lodges," Tewodros Deribew, Tourism Services Competence Accreditation director at the Ministry said.

The Ministry suspended an earlier directive, implemented in 2012, which was controversial among stakeholders, to start working on the latest directive which it now says, it is finalizing.

The first directive that tried to introduce standardization into Ethiopian hotels, restaurants, lodges and motels was issued in 1995; it was implemented on a voluntary basis to categorize hotels using a star system. However, the requirements and standards did not include other services except hotels, according to Tewodros.

These gaps again led the Ministry to review the standards and include restaurants, lodges and motels and produce another directive in 2011.

However, this directive could not be effective since there was no agreement between the Ministry and the companies on the implementation of the standards.

The businesses complained that the Ministry did not have enough skilled manpower and capacity for the implementation. The official admitted that the directive was not discussed with the companies on which it was to be implemented.

"It did not give more time for the companies to prepare in order to meet the standard," said Sentayehu. "The standards also had defects in measuring subjective components."

Eventually the Ministry undertook a study, financed by the World Bank (WB), through the Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Development Project (ESTDP).

The work of evaluating hotels, restaurants, lodges and motels was given to Duniram Consulting Firm, aScotlandcompany.

Duniram came up with a benchmarking tool to measure the environmental and socio-economic performance of hotels against a range of indicators and provide a foundation for improvement.

The new directive is also expected to give a duty free right for importing construction materials and machinery that they need for their services and pickup cars according to their rank, Sentayehu said.

"Even if we are very late to conduct the study and implement the standards, I hope we will not repeat the same mistakes" he said.

However, the official did not reveal the new requirements that the MoCT has set, claiming it is yet under discussion with the stakeholders.

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