Dechen Dolkar

Much to the relief of hoteliers, the Cabinet Secretariat has  approved hotels that are not rated as 3 -star to cater service to tourists as long as they fulfil the minimum standards.

The Department of Tourism (DoT) assessed 291 non-star hotels and certified 193 hotels as Blue poppy 1 and 2 category in January and February, 2022. Hotels that did not meet the  3-star rating were certified as Blue Poppy 1 and 2.

As per the record of the department, there are around 580 non-star rated hotels in the country so far.

According to the department, non-star hotels that have been assessed and found qualified for Blue Poppy 1 will be 1 star and Blue Poppy 2 will be 2-star rating.

The department stated that non-star hotels that have not been certified by the department will be required to undergo assessment and meet the minimum standards, if they wish to provide services to tourists.

It stated that assessment of these hotels will commence from June 5, 2023. The department will disseminate the procedures and supporting documents required for assessment and certification.

The Director General of the department, Dorji Dhradhul, said that to ensure timely assessment, dzongkhags will be authorized for assessment where possible.

He said that the criteria for assessment will be the same as criteria for the assessment of Blue Poppy 1 and 2. However, he said that the department will re-look into the criteria for assessment of star 1 and 2 in future.

“Some of the criteria are not relevant and not required for the assessment,” Dorji Dhradhul said.

The criteria for assessment includes hotels with pick up and drop-off areas for the guest, having trained or experienced managers in the hospitality field and hotels that provide appropriate staff uniforms.

The non-star-rated hotels should have basic amenities like  separate changing facilities for men and women employees if staff accommodation is not provided within the premises and all staff facilities should be accessible from the service corridor or separate entrance. There should be a separate staff toilet and a staff dining area.

Other criteria are the size of bed, presence of wardrobe/shelf/hooks with hangers, appropriate mirror and fixed or foldable luggage rack in the room.

It also mandates hotels  to have good quality furniture. “The minimum thickness of the mattress should be 12 cm,” it states.

On the safety aspect, hotels should have a minimum of two fire extinguishers with trained personnel and it should be located in prime locations.

The existing tourist accommodation and standardization and classification system, consisting of 3 star, 4 star and 5 star hotels, will be extended to include 1 star and 2 star categories.

However, officials from the department said that in locations without any certified tourist hotels rated star 1 and above, existing hotels will be allowed to cater to tourists on a time bound provisional basis, upon fulfillment of criteria determined by the department.

Homestays certified by the department, as per the existing practice, are also authorized to serve tourists in addition to certified tourist hotels.