By Charumini de Silva
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) last week awarded six hotels in the country with a star rating in an effort to bring service levels to international standards.
Kingsbury, Heritance Negombo, Grand Kandyan and Shangri-La Hambantota Resort and Spa were recognised as five star hotels, while Cinnamon Red was recognised as a three star hotel. Mirage Hotel was awarded with two stars.
According to the Extraordinary Gazette No. 1963/28, all registered hotels in the country should be classified on a star class basis with every registered proprietor responsible for complying with the minimum requirements for all categories of hotels specified in the rules for minimum capacities and facilities of tourist hotels.
Hotels will be reclassified every three years and during this time each establishment would be allowed the use of the approved symbol for that particular classification along with the name of the hotel.
Speaking at the event Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga emphasised the importance of standardisation of hotels, noting that the tourism sector has been recognised as a thrust industry for economic development.
While congratulating the hotels that received star classification, the Minister urged them to maintain standards, insisting that if they offer a value for money service it would increase repeat tourists and attract new visitors.
Hotel Classification Committee Chairman Tissa Warnasuriya told the Daily FT that they have visited 57 hotels and shortlisted 24, six of which were awarded star classification, with another three recognised as boutique villas.
“It is a tedious task. The major roadblock in implementing regulations was the absence of accurate data on unregistered hotels as it was not mandatory to register under the Tourist Board previously,” he added.
He said that out of the 24 hotels that were shortlisted, those unselected had a few shortcomings that needed to be rectified before a star rating could be awarded. However, Warnasuriya was hopeful to award at least ten more shortlisted hotels before the end of the month.
Amaratunga called on four to five star hoteliers to conduct continuous in-house training programs as to address the skill gap faced by the industry. The Minister also requested hotels to partner with Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) through a public private partnership (PPP) as it would add more value to the training programs and certificates on offer. Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Paddy Withana commended the private sector for holding the industry together during difficult times and for driving industry growth.
Noting that Sri Lanka has enough people to cater to increasing demand, Withana stressed that training was necessary boost the industry further.
Pix by Ruwan Walpola