Tanzania has waived a $3,500 fee hotel owners are expected to pay for their facilities to be rated under the joint criteria of the East African Community that seeks to market the region as a single tourism destination.
Tourism Minister Hamis Kigwangala abolished the fee a week ago saying the grading system was open to abuse and had been introduced without following due process.
"Hotel owners were subjected to paying the $3,500 per facility. This could attract a higher grade from the accreditation team," said Mr Kigwangala, adding that the government would come up with a new system to guide the grading teams.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is setting the new procedures for grading hotels.
The exercise, being conducted by a team from the Tourism Ministry, started in February amid protests from stakeholders that it was haphazard and that the flat fee for participation was too high for some establishments.
The executive secretary of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, Siril Akko, told The EastAfrican that several hotels were graded without a proper ranking system, and that there was the possibility of favouritism.
"Grading teams failed to set up a proper ranking system for tourist hotels and lodges before rating them into star classes," said Mr Akko.
Cost too high
The chief executive of the Hotels Association of Tanzania Nura-Lisa Karamagi said in as much as the classification was vital in marketing Tanzania alongside other EAC member states, the cost of the exercise was too high for a sector already burdened with multiple fees and taxes.
"We are looking mostly at the quality of service delivery that would compete with other EAC members other than grading every hotel," said Ms Karamagi.
In August, the Ministry of Tourism released a list of hotels, lodges and camps graded using the EAC Criteria for Standardisation of Tourism Facilities.
Nine hotels in Arusha and Dar es Salaam were rated five-star, 19 received a four-star ranking, 65 got a three -star, 81 were ranked two-star while a number of establishments were classified under one-star.
The five-star tourist accommodation facilities include the Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel, the Kilimanjaro Hyatt Regency and Sea Cliff in Dar es Salaam; as well as the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge and Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha.
The classification of tourist class hotels and other accommodation facilities is being conducted in the five member states of the EAC -- Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.
It is expected to stimulate competition in service delivery, efficiency and responsibility among governments and business stakeholders in the travel and tourism sectors. More than 60 hotel inspection experts across the region have been trained to conduct the exercise.