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CLASSIFICATION OF HOTELS, RESTAURANTS AND OTHER RELATED TOURIST FACILITIES IN TANZANIA
According to WTO records, by 1970 only five European countries had national classification systems in place. But by 1980 the number had increased to 22 in Europe and 60 worldwide. Since then hotel classification has been accepted to mean the separation and grouping of different types and ranges of accommodation or restaurants into several categories based on a range of standard criteria.
Historically, hotel classification systems were developed to ensure safe and reliable lodging and food for travellers at a time when very few such trustworthy establishments existed. With the unprecedented growth of international tourism in the past fifty years, during which hospitality has reached the status of a mature industry, the focus has moved from consumer protection (generally guaranteed by national regulations and legislation) to consumer information. Today, standardization and competitive marketing of hotel services to foreign customers and tourist professionals have emerged as driving forces for instituting a local or national hotel classification system.UNWTO
That is why, accommodation classification is the process by which establishments are separated and grouped into categories or classes according to their common physical, environmental, hospitality, amenities, service, safety, security and upkeep among other criteria. It entails the identification of types, settings, standards and criterion for each type. Other aspects such as verification of the standards, institutional certification and finally awarding of labels or signs are part of the processes of classification.
The Genesis of the Tanzanian Classification Scheme
The recognition of the necessity for quality assurance in the tourism industry has been acknowledged in Tanzania since the 1980s. The competitive nature of international tourism, the rising level of consumer rights and the need to stamp the country's destination credentials drove this initiative. In September, 2000, the Tanzania Government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNT) formed The Panel of Experts on Standardisation and Classification of Hotels, Restaurants and other Tourist Facilities. The Panel's portfolio also included setting-up of Standards for Non Classifiable Establishments. This decision was in line with the provisions of the East African Community (EAC) Treaty; article 115(2) and subsequent directions and decisions made by the EAC Council of Ministers. At the same time Kenya and Uganda as Members of the EAC (Partner States) likewise formed their teams. The Panel comprises of five experts from each Partner State who come from both the industry/private and the public sectors.
The Standards Criteria for Classification and the Assessment and Scoring, and the Score Tallying Sheets were developed by the said team of experts comprising Members from the EAC Partner States as said earlier. These experts were informed by UNWTO guidelines for Sub-Saharan Africa and best practices worldwide albeit with the problems discussed above. But adhered to the UNWTO references whereby basic standards which could be recognised as minimum standards of universal application irrespective of cultural differences, which are vital to all human beings and guests and correspond to ethics and satisfaction of their basic needs. It should also be firmly said that emphasis in approach differ. While some schemes emphasise quality, others may stress facilities and hygiene or service or even environment as Green Globe 21 does. Members of the Panel chose to borrow from all of these to come up with a comprehensive approach well tested for standardisation demands of our time.
Current Status of the Classification Process in Tanzania
Jointly with their counterparts from Kenya and Uganda (here in called EAC Partners) finalised the Draft Report on Proposed Standards Criteria for the Classification of Hotels, Restaurants and other Tourist Facilities and Proposed Standard Guidelines for the Development of Non-Graded Establishments. The Draft Criteria were presented to Stakeholders for discussion and deliberation in Dar es Salaam on 6th August 2004 at The Golden Tulip where 30 Dar es Salaam hotel operators/representatives attended. On 21st August the same year, another stakeholders meeting was held Arusha where 25 operators/owners were represented and lastly; 24th August one was held in Mwanza where 20 representatives attended. After that; The Standard Criteria were presented to the East African Tourism and Wildlife committee for deliberation, comments and approval in September 2004.
The East African Tourism and Wildlife Committee after deliberations, comments, corrections and appropriate recommendations forwarded the Standard Criteria to the EAC Council of Ministers who approved the Draft in April 2006. After the approval these Standard Criteria superseded all other existing schemes in the Partner States. The work of editing and publishing should be finalised by the EAC Secretariat before July 2007.
Developed the Assessment and Scoring and the Score Tallying Sheets for the Standards Criteria for Classification; covering Town and Vacation Hotels, Lodges and Tented Camps, Villas, Cottages and Serviced Apartments and Motels. The Counsel of Ministers approved these instruments after being deliberated by the East African Tourism and Wildlife Committee for five days in January 2007.
Pre-tested the Proposed Standards Criteria for Classification and Assessment and Scoring Sheet for seamless functionality in ten up-market hotels in Kampala, Entebbe and Munyonyo all in the Republic of Uganda under the auspices of the EAC Secretariat in October/November 2006. The Assessment and Scoring Sheets were edited to reflect what was happening on the ground in Uganda; a scenario which was believed to represent the rest of the Partner States.
Inventoried most of the Hospitality Establishments in Dar-es-salaam, Arusha, Mara, Dodoma, Mwanza, Tanga, Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Pwani. The Inventory Inspection Team is still on the ground mopping areas which were not optimally done.
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