The international hospitality industry has given an enthusiastic welcome to the hotel accommodation classification system launched by Abu Dhabi hailing it as a great move towards establishing the emirate’s global destination credentials.
Speaking on the system, which resulted from a two-year development program carried out in close collaboration with the private sector, leading hospitality figures in the region have given the initiative wholehearted support.
“This is an excellent system and will greatly help local, regional and international tour operators sell the destination because they will be able to confidently explain to visitors the level of accommodation they can genuinely expect,” said Nasser Al Nowais (pictured), Chairman of the Rotana Middle Eastern hotel chain.
A key element of the system’s development, which resonated well with the hospitality industry, was the inclusive approach adopted by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which pioneered and implements the system.
“The industry was involved all the way through which was great for everyone involved – we were encouraged to (provide our) input and the result is a system which we all feel a certain responsibility for and which we want to succeed,” commented Jean-Marc Busato, Area Vice President, The Rezidor Hotel Group.
As of June, ADTA classification inspectors will begin visiting the 49 hotels and 49 hotel apartments operating within Abu Dhabi emirate and by the end of this year, all will be classified with hotels being rated from one-to-five stars and hotel apartments being allocated deluxe, superior or standard ratings.
The ADTA system is one-of-a-kind combining, for the first time in the industry, both mandatory and scoring methodologies.
Accommodation classification systems are key tourism management tools acting as guidance information allowing guests to make informed choices about which properties to stay in.
“This system will help tour operators, particularly those overseas who may not have in-depth knowledge of the destination, give their clients much sounder advice on the type of properties available and what they can genuinely expect when they reach Abu Dhabi. It is a great help in managing expectations,” said Antony P. Liddiard, Chief Executive Officer, Rmal Hospitality, which belongs to the UAE’s Al Fahim Group.
Another benefit of the system is improved international perception of the destination, according to Guy Epsom, Regional Director of Sales & Marketing, Arabian Peninsula & Indian Ocean, Hilton Hotels.
“Travellers will know for sure what type of accommodation they will be getting and what to expect which adds credibility to any destination. It’s a good thing all round,” he said.
The classification systems is also expected to be a guideline for hotel developers who will play a key role in supplying the 13,000 additional rooms Abu Dhabi requires to meet the ADTA’s hotel guest target of 2.7 million annually by 2012. And, according to Ahmed Ramdan, Managing Director of hospitality consultancy group Roya International, the system could well spur upgrades of existing properties.
“The system will encourage the private sector to make investments in improving and maintaining the quality of their current properties as they strive to achieve upgraded rankings,” he explained.
The ADTA Classifications System operates to international standards and has been benchmarked against 35 worldwide destinations, including Switzerland, Singapore and the USA.