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Hotel, resort owners slam DOT rating project

MANILA, Philippines - Hoteliers and resort owners in the country are up in arms over a project by the Department of Tourism (DOT) to use stars to rate hotels, resorts and apartment hotels nationwide.

“I have been approached by hoteliers and resort owners to complain about the rating system being implemented by the DOT,” Robert Lim Joseph, president of the Network of Independent Travel & Allied Services Philippines, Inc. (NITAS), said last week.

A case has been filed with the Office of the Ombudsman against Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., Undersecretary Maria Victoria Jasmin, accreditation division head Jose Tolentino and DOT’s foreign consultants on the project by Plantation Bay Holdings Corp., owner of the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa on Mactan Island in Cebu, for their allegedly arbitrary and capricious implementation of “an unnecessary star grading system for Philippine tourism enterprises.”

Under the DOT initiative, hotels, resorts and apartelles nationwide will receive one- to five-star ratings supposedly to conform to global standards, dropping the previously used “deluxe,” “first-class,” “standard,” and “economy” classification.

The DOT rating project is shepherded by Jasmin, who has said there was a need to come up with a classification system to guide consumers, both Filipinos and foreigners.

Joseph said hoteliers and resort owners alleged that the DOT personnel who developed the rating system did not consult with the right people and that the foreign consultants were of questionable competence.

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“The problem is that (DOT officials) only dialogue with a few, only their friends,” he said.

Governments around the world, except Ireland, leave the ratings and recommendations to private organizations and publications, Joseph said.

Joseph said Jimenez should call the hotel owners’ groups for a meeting to resolve the issue.

“We want to find out how the ratings system and criteria have been determined and the people behind the fiasco,” he said.

Joseph also said the DOT obtained a P320-million grant from the Canadian government – which has no government rating system for hotels – through the Canadian International Development Agency to cover the expenses of the program and those doing the nationwide audit of hotels, resorts and apartelles. 

Joseph said the DOT could have used the grant to fund “training programs, conducting culture of tourism seminars, creating a better website, and translating city tours online in different languages.”

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