Maseru - Four hospitality establishments have been graded three-star by the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) in conjunction with the Lesotho Quality Star Grading organisation, QualStar.
The four are New Central Hotel in Qacha’s Nek, Mohale Lodge in Maseru, and Naleli Guest House and Birdhaven in Leribe, respectively. The hotels, lodges and guest houses were put through a rigorous and thorough quality audit by the two organisations in order to be graded with the new recognition.
Coincidentally, the grading also takes place at a time when LTDC and QualStar have re-launched the Lesotho Quality Star Grading programme for all businesses that deal with the leisure industry in order to boost tourism as well as the hospitality trade in the country.
Upon handing over of the star ratings in Maseru on Tuesday last week, LTDC chief executive officer Mpaiphele Maqutu encouraged the leisure accommodation services providers to take up the grading route as it was the only genuine and internationally accepted method of assessment for all accommodation facilities currently available.
Maqutu said if more establishment were star-rated in the country, then they could all play a meaningful role in the positive development of the country’s tourism sector and its contribution to the national fiscus. He reminded the owners of hotels and lodges that they were competing for the same market, who are the tourists from all over the world and therefore there was no reason to compromise on quality of service.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Environment & Culture, Khomoatsana Tau, said the review of the grading system had come at a time when the government had seen it beneficial to grow and upgrade the industry in order to boost tourist arrivals in the country.
“The Quality Star Grading Programme was initiated in 2007 in response to the ever growing need for support of the Accommodation sector’s business performance; both in terms of quality of service and growth. This was eminent in the low levels of occupancy rate per accommodation establishment, ever increasing number of complaints by travellers about poor quality of service and day visitors,” said Tau.
However, due to low participation by players in the industry since 2013 when it was implemented, the LTDC arranged for the programme to be reviewed and this was done from January to October last year.
“Some of the key weaknesses of the programme prior to the review was stringent standards that were not very responsive to the local context; less knowledgeable grading assessors with limited exposure; limited handholding activities and lack of weighted score sheet. It is important to highlight that this review has resulted into a new set of grading requirements, standards and score sheet.”
In addition to this, Tau said the ministry has embarked on developing the Tourism Enterprise Bill, expected to be passed by Parliament end of the 2017/18 financial year. The Bill will make it compulsory for all operators to adhere to the quality star grading system.
“I therefore encourage everyone to take this exercise seriously and enroll so that by the time it gets to be compulsory you are all used to the processes, know the best suppliers and strategies to best maintain the promised standards,” Tau said.
As part of the programme, the LTDC organised a workshop for all operators in the leisure accommodation sector and took them through what was expected of them before they could be graded. Among the issues discussed included waste management in terms of solid and liquid waste disposal, conservation and fire and safety management.
A testimony was given by Stella Diedricks of Mohale Lodge on how the star-rating helped her establishment gain a bigger market share of the international visitors coming into the country.