Comment on hotel rankings counterproductive, hoteliers tell CS Mutua

 Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua
Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Hoteliers have protested against Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua's recent blanket condemnation of hotel rankings, saying it will undermine Kenya as a tourist destination.

Stakeholders in the tourism sector said such statements from the CS will paint a bad picture of a struggling sector.

“It is a duty of the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) to constantly review the rankings of the hotel but the authority seems to have slept on their job. The announcement by CS Mutua will have an effect on tourists who view the establishments in a positive manner,” said Mohammed Hersi, a hotelier.

He added, “We are shocked by the CS Mutua utterances since Kenyan ranking was the best and even adopted by other East Africa Community states. We are asking the government to introduce a system of constant review of such hotels including getting feedback from clients which is vital in the process.”

Kenya Coast Tourist Association (KCTA) leadership also stated,

“The call by CS that even some hotels will be closed was unfortunate. We are asking the government to work with stakeholders to revive industry rather than public announcements.”

Ishpal Singh Obero, director of Kuldip Travellers, said the government should not blame the private sector for the ratings.
Mr Obero said the high cost of doing business had led to the deterioration of hotel facilities.

"Most of the hotels cannot maintain their standards due to high cost of electricity and levies. The government should not condemn hoteliers but should work to provide a conducive environment for doing business," said Mr Obero.

This week, Mr Mutua noted that hotel classification has been marred by subjectivity and favouritism, neglecting the standards that should be the cornerstone of the country's hospitality.

Dr Mutua outlined strict criteria for hotel classification, saying those who fail to meet the standards will face the consequences.

"Some hotels may be downgraded, their stars stripped away to reflect the reality of their shortcomings,” he said.

The CS was speaking in Maasai Mara on Monday when he launched the Mara Tourism and Wildlife College in Pardamat Conservancy, Narok West.

Influencing their ratings

The announcement comes as some of the country's hotels face possible downgrades following allegations that they have been influencing their ratings to standards they don't deserve.

Dr Mutua has issued a stern warning to the management of the unnamed hotels, accusing them of engaging in shady dealings to artificially increase their ratings.

Pointing the finger at the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA), CS Mutua criticised the regulatory body for failing in its duties by allowing hotels to be rated higher than they deserve.

Dr Mutua warned that hotels found guilty of manipulation would face consequences, including possible closure by the government. He stressed the importance of maintaining high standards in the hospitality sector to maintain the country's reputation in tourism.

The hotel rating serves as an international benchmark, ensuring that guests have clear expectations of the level of service they'll receive.

The star rating system evaluates hotels and restaurants based on a variety of criteria, including location, decor, staff grooming and linguistic diversity. 

Five-star establishments are expected to exceed these standards, offering luxurious amenities and first-class customer service.

In the Coast region, only Leopard Beach Resort and Swahili Beach Resort in Kwale County, and Medina Palms in Watamu, Kilifi County, held five-star ratings in the 2016 rankings.

In Nairobi, top-rated spots included Villa Rosa Kempinski, Hemingways Nairobi, Sankara Nairobi, Fairmont The Norfolk and The Sarova Stanley. Other five-star hotels in Nairobi were Radisson Blu Hotel, Dusit D2 and Tribe Hotel.

Out of more than 80 classified hotels, only 30 were awarded star ratings by the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA).