The move means that from the end of this year, all hotels and hotel apartments within the emirate will be classified with hotels being categorised on a sliding scale of one star to five stars, and hotel apartments being classified as either deluxe, superior or standard.
“This is a major step forward in the delivery of destination integrity. It will provide much-needed consistency to tour operators selling the destination, successfully manage the expectations of our respected visitors and ultimately ensure a level of quality performance from all the emirate’s accommodation providers in line with the development of a world-class destination,”
said His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA.
“The system will also provide a framework for hotel investors when designing their properties to include the necessary facilities and services to attract their desired market groups. It will also be an incentive to hotel owners and managers to upgrade their facilities,” he added.
The product of two years of consistent co-operation with the emirate’s growing hospitality sector, the system has been benchmarked against global well known destinations.
“Our studies revealed that throughout the entire industry, classification systems were either mandatory in nature or based on scoring methodology and they often resulted in disappointing gaps between theory and reality due to lack of implementation. We seized the advantage of learning from others to create a best-in-class system, with fair and transparent implementation mechanisms and one which is geared to delivering quality throughout the entire hospitality chain,” said Al Muhairi.
The ADTA system combines both mandatory and scoring methodologies to deliver a quality standardisation system which is aimed at developing industry standards and procedures, enhancing tourism standards in the emirate and encouraging their continuous improvement.
And, in a move designed to further differentiate the Abu Dhabi system, five value-added categories have been added – environmental issues, special needs, comprehensive detailed standards, consideration for cultural tourism sustainability and implementation planning. A new graphic brand has also been developed for the scheme and greatly differentiates it from the conventional five-star visual messaging.
All applicants have to meet minimum standards for overall general safety and security, bedrooms and bathrooms, public areas and services and amenities and will then also be rated on a scoring system covering accommodation, infrastructure, guest service and restaurants.
“The private sector was closely engaged throughout the entire development process and its input proved invaluable in producing a system which we believe is an industry leader,” added Al Muhairi.
Six general managers of hotels throughout Abu Dhabi served on the technical committee which oversaw the system’s progression with a series of industry workshops conducted at each development stage. Selected hotels then assisted in testing the system with feedback being used to instigate improvements. Selected industry partners also assisted in familiarising the industry with the system and in the training of classification controllers.
“This is a world-class system which will be upgraded very two years in accordance with prevailing international market standards and to reflect the increasing status of Abu Dhabi as a global destination of distinction,” explained Nasser Saif Al Reyami, Director, Licensing and Classification Division, ADTA.
And in a second unique move, the ADTA has also launched a password-protected online classification track and trace system – eclass – which brings a high level of transparency to the entire process and took 12 months to design.
“Transparency is a key element to success,” said Al Reyami. “At each stage of the process, both the applicant and ADTA can review all details from inspection to classification thereby limiting the risk of error.”
The ADTA’s classification inspection team will begin its reviews of the emirate’s 49 hotels and 49 hotel apartment facilities within the next two months.
“All hospitality accommodation within the emirate will be classified by the end of this year,” explained Al Reyami.
All hotel establishments need to earn a pre-determined score, on a scale of one to 900, to qualify for a particular classification rating. Every star rating has a set of essential and necessary criteria that have to be met to qualify for a specific star rating.
“Realistically we do not expect that even five-star hotels will be able to offer all of the services and amenities in the scoring system, so it does allow hotels to offer varied products,” explained Al Reyami.
Initial classification is free to the hotel/apartment operators who will, however, have to pay for a system upgrade applications. Hotel/apartment accommodation operators will be given feedback following initial inspection of their properties and be given a time scale on which to rectify any perceived gaps before rating. An appeals system also exists.
According to Al Reyami training, both within ADTA and its private sector partners has played a crucial role in bringing the classification system to reality.
“Training has involved all stakeholders – from our classification inspectors, to hotel operators and their various departments, including I.T. sectors,” said Al Reyami.
“This has been an exemplary project of highly successful public-private sector enterprise and one which we believe will become a case study for tourism industry worldwide,” he added.
Monday, May 26- 2008 @ 10:21 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.