Sri Lanka starts mandatory star ratings for hotels

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has started implementing mandatory star ratings, with over two dozen tourist hotels being awarded stars at a ceremony in Colombo following inspections of some hotels by regulators.

Shangri-La hotel in Colombo and Araliya Green City in Nuwara Eliya central Sri Lanka were among five hotels which were given plaques at a ceremony in Colombo.

Anantaya Resort and Spa in Passikudah, Anantara Peace Haven Resort in Tangalle, and RIU Hotel in Ahungalle were the others who received five star plaques.

Tissa Warnasuriya Chairman of the classification committee said it was not their intention to act like policemen.

"We tried to give hoteliers that maximum classification to hoteliers that we can afford to give," he said.

He said some hotels had not gone through the gazette notice issued in 2016, to observe the requirements set for each star and had failed to make the grade when inspectors came and they could not give the rating.

Tourism minister John Amaratunga said hotels that were given ratings can reapply when missing requirement was completed, and the new ratings would be given in a short time.

Chandana Wijeratne, Director for Standards and Quality Assurance at the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said efforts would be made to give the new rating within a month.

As soon as requirements were completed the old (lower) rating would be misleading the market.

Some advocates of a market based economy, see mandatory ratings as a move to re-regulate the economy by the state.

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In many advanced free markets where innovation takes place and the trade responds quickly to changing customer requirements, star ratings are not mandatory and enforced by a coercive state.

Hotel ratings originated as a market based people’s effort in the West with the Automobile Association giving guidance on drivers on the facilities available on hotels on the road and served as a kind of third party branding.

In the US, the diamond ratings are still set by the AA.

However according to some travelers, online ratings and reviews by booking engines like Agoda.com which have solicited reviews, which are increasingly relied upon by international travellers may make star ratings based on periodic inspections obsolete.

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