Tourism products should be upgraded, says Minister Amaratunga | Sunday Observer

Tourism products should be upgraded, says Minister Amaratunga

A hotelier receives a classification plaque from Minister Amaratunga.  Pic: Saliya Rupasinghe
A hotelier receives a classification plaque from Minister Amaratunga. Pic: Saliya Rupasinghe

A mechanism to classify tourist hotels in the country with the objective of offering quality tourism products to customers, was launched in Colombo last week.

“The country needs to upgrade tourism related products and service offering. High standards should be maintained at all times. The classification of hotels is timely and will boost the level of confidence in the guest which is very important to attract more tourists into the country,” Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga said.

The proper classification of tourist hotels was a long felt need. It will provide more acceptance to guests who book-in without seen the product. The hotels will be compelled to maintain high standards and this will augur well for the industry, he said.

The country goes through a lean period and drop in arrivals in some months. We need to take advantage of this situation and allow package tourism to budget tourists. The budget airlines can play a crucial role in this regard and the need for a properly managed budget airline is there. However, the major airlines too could offer cut-down rates to attract more tourists in lean periods, he said.

“Most of the guests who visit the country move to the outstations as there is no night life in the city. We need to have night clubs to entertain them. Many things needed to be done to attract more tourists. The visa free arrival is a matter under consideration.

“However, we need to make the Emigration and Immigration services more efficient to handle the influx of tourists. The Airport needs to be more customer friendly.

“The upgrading and development of the domestic airports is necessary to facilitate speedy transportation for the tourists. Hotel classification is a very important step in the industry and we need careful assessment of all establishments to ensure they remain according to the classification,” he said.

The Minister requested the hotels to have a plan to target more tourist by offering them more facilities during the lean periods as done in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

There is an increase in tourist arrivals at the rate of 18 to 19 percent monthly. The country has an ambitious target of 2.5 million tourists by end of this year. The presentation of star grading to tourist hotels will enable them to have an official classification on their offering both in terms of product and service. It also reflects the standard of the hotel, service and the facilities. It will give a prior knowledge on the quality and the standard that could be expected before visiting the place, Director General Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Upali Ratnayake said.

While the star classification create confidence in the mind of the tourist, it is also important to showcase the industry standards of the country.

The classification enables the guest to have some recognition of the product and service that could be expected. The classification is a mandatory requirement and the process will be evaluated from time to time to ensure the criteria are met, he said.

“The inspection process was a tiresome effort and it is not merely an inspection. We will ensure that processes are in place continuously and will not compromise on the quality. There will be special emphasis on the facilities given to guests and the disabled.

This move will take the tourism industry forward. This will promote Sri Lanka’s image further in the world,” Chairman Hotels Classification Committee Tissa Warnasuriya said. Under the hotel classification process, 45 hotels received plaques from the Minister Amaratunga.

As per the new gazette notification No 1963/28 dated April 20 2016, all tourist hotels registered with Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) shall be classified as a star class tourist hotel. No tourist hotel should display, publish or announce any star class or symbol without the official classification from SLTDA. The SLTDA has determined classification of 27 tourist hotels during the past year. 

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