- Hilton languishes at 3 stars
A star-rating project that the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has been undertaking in Ethiopia for the past couple of years is gaining momentum, with 167 out of 365 hotels being rated. During a workshop held this week, Tewodros Deribew, tourist services competence accreditation and classification director with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MoCT), said that 365 hotels in Addis Ababa, Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harari, Oromia, Southern Regional State and Tigray have so far been assessed for star rating.
Of 139 hotels in Addis Ababa, only 80 hotels have made it through to the ratings.
The star-rating project has brought in mandatory requirements that hotels ought to comply with certain safety standards. Fire safety and emergency exits, food safety, hygiene and sanitation are some of the basic criteria hotels need to meet. But many did not, and public agencies share the blame for that. According to Tewodros, hotels situated in the regions are facing hurdles to comply with mandatory standards.
There is no fire control service provider in the regions. The Addis Ababa Fire and Emergency Prevention and Rescue Authority is the sole provider of services across the country. Hence, it is unrealistic for regional hotels to have access to such services. In addition, follow-up and regulatory services in the areas of food safety, hygiene and sanitation face similar drawbacks as the Food, Medicine and Health Administration and Control Authority, as Tewodros claims, fails to deliver the required services and periodic regulatory checks.
That said, two years after the first star-rating system was instituted, the ministry is set to launch a regular rating system that would require hotels to be star-rated. The second rating is expected to be undertaken next year with some 50 local experts trained for the job. Previously, six UNWTO assessors have been tasked with rating hotels and awarding them stars.
Hilton Addis, an iconic hotel, to the surprise of some, remains rated 3 stars – a far cry from the 50 years of yore when it enjoyed a 5-star status. According to Tewodros, there has not been much in the way of improvement over the past couple of years to warrant an upgrade.
When the ministry publicized its intention of introducing a systematized rating program, hoteliers and tour operators cried foul. Many stressed the lack of skilled manpower in the sector. Operators have expressed misgivings about how locally trained practitioners lack hardcore skills the hospitality business entailed.
As regards hotel accommodation rates, both officials of the ministry and tour operators faulted hoteliers for jacking up prices. Meaza Gebremedhin, state minister of MoCT, urged hoteliers to take another look at their room rates. She mentioned how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been pressing her office with regard to expensive hotels rates, especially during major events such as African Union summits. “You should seriously consider the rates. People are saying they would relocate the AU to other countries,” the state minister said.