Dechen Dolkar  

The Department of Tourism has upgraded 12 Blue Poppy II hotels with provisional registration for 3-star rating with few exceptions in criteria in some dzongkhags.

In 2021, the Bhutan Standard Bureau (BSB) together with relevant agencies came up with a standardisation of budget hotels. The budget hotels were categorised as Blue Poppy I and Blue Poppy II.

There are more than 630 budget hotels (Blue Poppy) in the country.

Recently, the department upgraded four Blue Poppy hotels in Gelephu, one in Samtse, three in Samdrupjongkhar, and one each in Wangdue, Mongar, Lhuentse, and Trashiyantse to 3-star rated hotels.

These dzongkhags either have no star-rated hotels or have only a few.

The Director General of DoT, Dorji Dhradhul, said that the department has given some consideration in terms of criteria to upgrade to a 3-star hotel.

He said that the department has considered the parking requirements and room size though the structural change is not possible. The size of single rooms for 3-star hotels should have 9 cubic meters, and double rooms should have 14 cubic meters.

However, he said that there are some hotels that cannot be upgraded to 3-star hotels.

The hoteliers claim that the department still uses the certification criteria documents which are called tourist accommodation classification standards 2016-2020 for star-rated hotels.

“This document is already invalid,” the hoteliers said.

However, the Blue Poppy hoteliers in Thimphu, Paro, Phuentsholing, and Punakha have not applied for upgradation.

The hoteliers said that those hotels that were upgraded were already given exceptions to cater to tourists since there are no star-rated hotels in the dzongkhags.

The hoteliers said that they have upgraded already three times which incurred huge investments.

“If we upgrade again it will be upgrading four times. If the government provides some incentives, we will upgrade,” the hoteliers said.

The hoteliers said the occupancy rate of the star-rated hotels has decreased drastically with less number of tourists arriving. Some of the star-rated hotels didn’t receive a single number of tourists so far.

The hoteliers said that upgrading to 3-star hotels will not benefit them, which would be an additional expenditure for hoteliers.

Meanwhile, one of the new 3-star properties withdrew from the assessment and certification.

The proprietor said that they have completed 60 pages of documents of the upgradation form to a 3-star hotel.

However, he said that the Paro dzongkhag engineering department didn’t issue an occupancy certificate. They suggested hiring private  companies because government agencies do physical verification of concrete structures.

“When I did a fitness check of the property, which was only for 20 minutes of testing, the bill amount was Nu 21,0000, which is an insane amount. So had to withdraw the idea,” the proprietor.