The new classification system for hotels was officially launched this morning at an industry-wide event held under the patronage of HE Ms. Maha Al Khatib, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities. Representatives from all hotels around Jordan were present at the event, along with tour operators and other industry officials, to learn about the new system and how it will be implemented. The new hotel classification system was developed by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) and the USAID/Jordan Tourism Development Project II in coordination with many parties from the public and private sectors.
“This is an exciting time for Jordan’s hotels; the new classification system will be implemented in partnership with the private sector and will help significantly raise the bar at hotels across Jordan,” said HE Ms. Maha Khatib, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities. She added, “This is key to improving Jordan’s competitive[ness] as a tourism destination, as accommodation is a vital part of the visitor experience.”
“Today, tourists expect more and advancements in technology are setting new standards for tourism products,” said Mr. Jay Knott, USAID Jordan Mission director. “This new hotel classification system will ensure that Jordan can compete on an international level and that the tourism experience meets and even exceeds visitor expectations.”
The new classification system focuses on services rather than facilities. It is split into basic standards, which are mandatory, and optional standards. Hotels must meet all basic standards within their star category in order to ensure the basic needs of their guests regarding safety, hygiene, and comfort are met. The optional standards use a points system whereby hotels must obtain a minimum number of points to get the definite star classification. The optional standards allow hotels to customize their service based on their target market. For example, a business hotel can accumulate the points they need by providing high-speed Internet connections, secretarial services, and a business center, while a leisure hotel can accumulate the same number of points by offering spa facilities, a swimming pool, tennis court, etc.
A unique feature of the pioneering new system is that it is fully automated through an integrated ICT system that will give MoTA, classification assessors, hotel operators, and guests easy access to comprehensive information about hotels and their classification, as well as facilitating a faster, more efficient and effective classification process.
The new classification standards will be applied at all existing hotel establishments in Jordan starting from February 1, 2010. Assessors from MoTA, JHA, and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) have been undergoing intensive training over the past few months to learn about the new standards and how they are used, as well as how to use the automated inspection system that has been developed for the new classification system. During today’s event, 10 assessors who successfully completed the training, were certified and are ready to begin working their ways through Jordan ’s hotels over the year.
MoTA has already begun to apply the new standards for new hotels, and to date, three hotels have already been classified according to the new system. As existing hotels are assessed throughout 2010, they will be given the results of their classification assessment, along with a grace period in which to address areas that need to be developed or upgraded to meet the new standards. By January 2011, all hotels in Jordan will be re-classified under the new system. The new system will be continuously revised and upgraded in response to new trends in the tourism industry.