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Consul reveals $7M budget for hotel standards review

CEBU, Philippines - A tourism industry executive has disclosed that the Department of Tourism has spent $7 million in the assessment of new standards under the Hotel and Resorts Quality Assurance and Accreditation System.

 Consul Robert Lim Joseph, the president emeritus of the Network of Independent Travel and Allied Services Philippines Inc., said the fund was a technical assistance by the Government of Canada and administered by the Asian Development Bank.

 “There is one big issue here… something that is very similar to Napoles-like project wherein the Canadian government gave $7 million to the ADB to be given not to DOT but to NGO that the DOT is working with. What they have to do is to rate the hotels,” Joseph said during the 888 News Forum at the Marco Polo Plaza yesterday.

 The DOT is working with a team of International Accommodation Assessors (IAAs) in conducting a national review of accommodation standards to Philippine hotels and resorts in key island destinations such as Cebu, Bohol, Davao and Palawan.

 In the past, Joseph said it was only the DOT director in the region who sent out a team to conduct the assessment.

 “Now we are questioning, where did you get this” We are the second country in the world that has a rating system?” Joseph said.

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 DOT is set to hold talks to appease critics of the new star rating system for hotels and resorts in the Philippines. No definite date has been set for the dialogue but Joseph said he is glad DOT has reacted positively.

 “True enough, it was good that they did not take us lightly,” Joseph said.

 Joseph said the issue started in Cebu when Plantation Bay Holdings Corp., owner of the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Mactan Island, filed a case last month before the Office of the Ombudsman against DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., undersecretary Maria Victoria Jasmin, Accreditation Division head Jose Tolentino, and the agency’s foreign consultants for the alleged arbitrary and capricious implementation of “an unnecessary star grading system for Philippine tourism enterprises.”

 The announcement of the new star rating system to more than 700 accredited tourism accommodation providers will push through in the third week of November this year.

 The star rating system is in line with efforts of the department to raise the bar for Philippine hotels and resorts and align this with global standards.

 The formal classification comprises of five levels ranging from one to five stars, which is based on a point system focusing on inventory, availability, condition and quality of facilities.

The previously used “deluxe,” “first-class,” “standard,” and “economy” classification will soon be dropped. — (FREEMAN)

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