By Fanuel Lakew
The Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism and Development Project under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism signed an agreement with the World Tourism Organization (WTO) of UN for the consultancy service on the ‘Implementation of Hotel Classification and Grading System in Ethiopia’ here yesterday at the Ministry premises.
Speaking on the occasion, Project Manager Jemal Kedir said that the existing classification and grading system is outdated and the grading assessors of the Ministry and State tourism bureaus are inexperienced as they have not undertaken grading of the accommodation facilities for several years.
Jemal also said that the need for a new classification and grading system is widely recognized in Ethiopia and the private sector has been eager to have the system implemented as soon as possible.
According to Jemal, the grading and classification system will provide assistance to new accommodation developments in developing physical as well as managerial systems, create a healthy business competition, make a system for planning and policy decisions for the tourism sector and assist in the determination of investment incentives, among others.
UN/WTO Executive Director Zhu Shanzhong on his part said that Ethiopia is one of the most important member states as it has a good relations with WTO for long period of time.
WTO Technical Cooperation Director Dr. Harsh Verma said: “We have been collaborating with the Ministry and the World Bank Project because Ethiopia is rich in tourist attractions.”
He further noted hotel grading is important for the consumers, tour and travel agents and hotel industry as it is crucial to assure and maintain quality services and facilities, provide market information.
The agreement was signed by Jemal Kedir and Zhu Shanzhong. The project which costs over 12 million Birr is financed by the World Bank and is scheduled to start operation in mid January 2015 in Addis Ababa and state cities.
Some 600 hotels have the potential of acquiring star level in the country. WTO has 162 member states and Ethiopia joined it in 1975 at its establishment.
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