Local hospitality industry players, especially hotels owners, should improve their facilities to meet the East African Community standards, officials from the Rwanda Development Board and the Private Sector Federation have urged.
The advice comes ahead of the upcoming hotel classification and grading exercise scheduled for this month and April.
During the exercise, 60 hotels will be classified. Thirty-one hotels were classified in 2011, with only two of them – Kigali Serena Hotel and Nyungwe Forest Lodge – rated as five-star.
According to Emmanuel Werabe, the RDB tourism quality and standards manager, they have already classified the 60 hotels according to location, facilities and human resources.
The grading criteria outlines the basic requirements and maximum score that qualify an establishment for the award of the different levels on the star rating, ranging from one to five stars.
“For instance, to qualify for the one star grading, a hotel will score 100 per cent on essential items and a minimum of 50 per cent out of a possible 2,135 points.
“To qualify for a five star grading, a hotel will score 100 per cent on essential items then a minimum of 50 per cent of the total points and a minimum of 80 per cent out of a possible total of 5,575 points marked on the criteria for attaining a five star rating,” Werabe explained.
Deo Kamurase, the Nyungwe Forest Lodge manager, said the five-star rating they got in the last grading has boosted the facility’s opportunities.
“While other hotels are struggling to market their facilities and attract tourists, we are receiving more than we can handle, thanks to our five-star grade,” Kamurase said.
“There are also other benefits; for instance, the RDB included our hotel on its tourism website, which markets us. So, we are receiving more tourists than before,” he said.
Werabe, however, said that acquiring the star status does not mean that a hotel should relax, noting that the grade a hotel attains is not permanent.
“Hotel owners should know that they have to stay competitive in the industry. So, you must work hard to get higher grades,” he noted.
“We consider EAC requirements and then borrow from other world models because the hotel industry in Rwanda is still poor. So, do not let this opportunity of classification slip away,” he explained of the criteria they are using to grade the hotels.
Rwanda joined EAC in 2007 and has since been trying to improve the hospitality sector to be competitive in the region.