(Seychelles News Agency) – To better manage the expectation of visitors and achieve a greater degree of standardisation and professionalism within Seychelles’ tourism industry, the Department of Tourism aims to adopt a standardised grading system for establishments.
The tourism principal secretary, Sherin Francis, told reporters that it is important for tourists to be able to learn about each establishment’s standard before making a purchase, allowing them to know what to expect thanks to an established grading system.
She pointed out that it is critical to recognise that the grade of facilities and services available influences a visitor’s choice of destination.
“The national grading system establishes standard levels across the board. To be issued a license, the authorities look at the minimum physical standards – the amenities, the size of the establishment and so forth. However, the aesthetic, and services provided are not necessarily looked at under licenses. If you want to increase the standard of services in a destination these parts are important to be looked at,” said Francis.
The grading system will consist of two programmes – the Star Rating System and the Seychelles Secrets programme – and will better showcase the product diversity, and allow establishments to better market and sell their products.
Establishments with 51 rooms or more will automatically fall under the Star Rating System and will be provided with a star rating between three to five stars. There are 21 hotels that fall under this category and their participation in this grading programme is compulsory. It is optional for establishments with 50 rooms or less to partake in this grading programme.
The Seychelles Secret programme is geared towards smaller establishments like self-catering establishments, guesthouses and small hotels. Here establishments will receive one of three grades – Bronze, Silver, and Gold, following the assessment.
A set of criteria against for evaluation has been developed by the Department of Tourism and comprises physical, comfort, service, universal accessibility and sustainability assessment areas.
Currently, there are over 730 tourism establishments in the country, 75 percent of which are self-catering.
The Department of Tourism will commence this process with a sensitisation programme with the establishment owners, where the purpose and benefits of the grading system will be detailed.
In September, the department will start assessing establishments. The full roll-out of the programme is anticipated to take place about a year from this month.
“It is important that we can assess all mandatory and voluntary establishments before we publish their ratings. We want the ratings to be published at the same time to ensure no participating establishment is placed at a disadvantage,” said Francis.
In May this year, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the Tourism Development Standards Regulations. Once the regulations come into force and the tourism department launches the grading programme officially, the establishment will no longer be able to publish any other rating system currently being used unless it is one provided by the department.
Once graded, establishments will be issued a plaque, with the grading, which they will be able to showcase in a visible area of the establishment.
The director for product development, Sinha Levkovic, outlined that “once an establishment is graded, the grading will be valid for 2 years.”
She added that “normal routine visits will continue and we will look to see if the standard is being maintained, but the formal reassessment will take place close to the end of the two years.”