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Most Bhutan hotels fail three-star criteria

THIMPHU, Bhutan --Three months remain, yet only a handful of hotels catering to tourists have made upgrades to qualify for a three-star rating.

In 2010, based on a proposal by McKinsey & Co., it was made mandatory for all one- and two-star hotels to upgrade to three-star by the end of 2012.

The policy was in line with the target of bringing in 100,000 U.S. dollar-paying and high-end regional tourists this year. The policy also mandates all tourists be lodged in three-star hotels and above.

A memorandum of understanding was signed with hoteliers and the tourism council of Bhutan secretariat (TCBS) that monitors and accredits hotels.

Hotels are classified, based on 320 parameters under six broad features of location and type of property; room comfort, quality of equipment, fittings and furniture; service facilities; leisure facilities; additional in-house facilities and services; and sustainable tourism practices.

Tourism officials said the basic requirements, such as infrastructure, guest amenities, number of staff based on the number of rooms for one- to five-star hotels remained the same, but star ratings depended on upgrading these facilities.

“To achieve a three-star status, a hotel has to gain certain minimum basic points, based on the hotel's standard and services,” a TCBS official said. “And the basic point varies for every category.”

At present, 54 two-star hotels and 19 one-star hotels need to upgrade to three-star by year-end.

Since 2010, six hotels upgraded to three-star, while 14 were delisted. “Those delisted are one- and two-star hotels,” the secretariat's media spokesperson said. There are 123 hotels in the country, of which eight are five-star, seven four-star, 54 two-star and 19 one-star.

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This photograph taken on Aug. 17, 2011 shows a general view of the Luxury Suite villa at the Uma Hotel in Paro, Bhutan. Three months remain, yet only a handful of hotels catering to tourists have made upgrades to qualify for a three-star rating.(AFP)

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