Hotels in Bhutan will soon graded on a star rating, based on a new classification system introduced by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), which will replace the existing lettering system.
“The proposed system incorporates all accommodations for international tourists and could be expanded in future,” said the director general of TCB, Kesang Wangdi. He said that the proposed system is aimed at providing credibility and to benefit hoteliers by motivating them to invest and offer improved services.
According to the head of Service Division, TCB, Rinzin Jamtsho, “The old lettering system has served its purpose but, with development taking place and the clients demanding international grading, we’ve come forward with this new system.”
The letter system, which categorized hotels as class A, B and C class, was introduced in 1999. According to this system, 18 hotels, including Olathang, Riverview, Jomolhari, and Druk, have been classified as A class. In class B are 44 hotels such as Wangchuk, Dragon Roots, Pegyel, Namsey and Rigsum. Others come under class C.
According to the Hotel Association of Bhutan, there are 93 hotels approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan, 44 under construction and 29 in other categories.
The Service Division of TCB and the Austrian Coordination Office (ACO) in Bhutan worked out the new star system. “A committee comprising of representatives from TCB, stakeholders, Hotel Association of Bhutan and tour operators will be formed who will evaluate the rating system,” said Rinzin Jamtsho.
“There are a lot of things that the committee will be looking at and the hotels will be rated accordingly. There will be ratings by point on facilities like the number of staff, size of the room, sanitation, reception, types of service (food and beverage) and many more,” said Dr Michael Raffling, a consultant with the TCB.
After the adoption of the new system, the star ratings and the facilities available in the hotel will also be displayed on a website by which the clients can choose the hotel according to their ability and liking. “The under-cutting business by the tour operators can also be checked by the system,” said a TCB official.
The number of international arrivals reached 21,094 in 2007, marking an increase of about 21.6 percent over 2006. The projection of arrivals for 2008 is expected to increase to 25,000 according to TCB.
On May 22, TCB officials and stakeholders from Thimphu and Paro met in the capital to discuss on the new system. Similar seminars are to be conducted throughout the country.
Dilu Giri, Corporate Secretary of the Hotel Association of Bhutan pointed out the quality issues for Bhutanese hotels were poor intrastructure, services, insufficient staff, lack of international facilities, meat ban and poor investment on training.