Sri Lanka lacks effective grading system for tourist accomodation

July 21, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tourism industry needs a standardized grading system for tourist accomodation, which indicates the minimum requirements of service standards, a recent industry reportays.

“The industry needs a standardized grading system that spells out the minimum requirement of service standards to ensure safety and comfort of the establishments and guests,” Bartleet Religare Securities (BRS) said in a report.

According to the report, there were 18,078 graded rooms available in 2014, which is set to increase by around 5,100 by 2019.

However, 7,959-room strong non-graded accommodation sector, for which free independent travellers are more attracted to, is growing at a faster pace than graded accommodation despite the questionable service standards.

The modern tourist rarely relies only on the star grading of an establishments.

With online booking portals and customer feedback websites being attributed significant importance, the report says a potential tourist would review most customer reviews prior to booking their stay at a specific hotel.

“Adverse service reviews will only hamper future occupancies,”

“This illustrates the need for a harmonized grading system and minimum service requirements that should be strictly enforced on individual properties,”

“With the growing trend of free independent travellers/back packers, the growth in the lower- end one and two star properties too have increased with questionable service standards.”

Meanwhile, the encouragement of ‘home-stays’ have also fragmented the industry further.

“Pricing of home-stays are at the owners discretion thus leading to higher prices without any consistency in service standards and safety.”

The current star classification system was established in a 1966 Gazette notification. While it was somewhat updated in the Tourism Act of 2005, most requirements remain outdated and take into consideration only technical aspects.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is a key driver of economic growth and arrivals rose 11.9 percent to 115,467 in June 2015 from a year earlier, driven by India and China, data showed.

In the year to June, arrivals of visitors were up 14.1 percent to 830,051 from the year before.