Analyses - June 13, 2005



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June 2005


Print Accommodation, Around the world,

Commentary from Michael Nowlis on the hotel classification

Michael Nowlis is Managing Director of Tourism Control Intelligence. He has rated hospitality establishments for various guides and trained AAA inspectors.

Why make things simple when you can make them complicated?  Such a rhetorical question summarizes the obfuscation created by tourism authorities, intergovernmental organizations, travel companies and trade associations in their discombobulated initiatives to classify hotels. Many European countries categorize hotels using a system of one to five stars. However, that's just the beginning.  The French government awards a maximum of four stars but has an alternative category called “four-star luxe” and another, termed “HT”. In Dubai, a major destination for European vacationers, there is a seven-star hotel. Spanish lodging establishments are graded using a star scale with additional qualifiers such as “R”, “H” and “Hs”. A modest Madrid hostel, for example, could have a rating of “** R Hs”. European hotel classification is a jumbled litter of incomprehensible stars, diamonds, letters and numbers.

While hospitality industry has long resisted Brussels' initiatives to harmonize hotel categorization in the name of consumer protection, national tourism authorities are also losing the battle to standardize hotel ratings. Devolution and decentralization have resulted in classification standards becoming increasingly diverse rather than more uniform. In Spain, each of the seventeen regional authorities has its own approach to grading lodging facilities.

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