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Thailand Hotels Urged to Join Thai Ratings System; 119 Hotels out of
 5,000 Properties Participating So Far - One to Five Stars
Make for Fair Pricing in Industry

By Sujintana Hemtasilpa, Bangkok Post, Thailand
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

March 1, 2006 - Hotel operators have been encouraged to join the hotel-rating programme run by an independent body, which has set a target to double the number of participants to 250 by the end of this year. 

The programme was initiated three years ago by the Thai Hotels Association (THA), the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). It is implemented by the Foundation for Standards and Human Resource Development in Hospitality Industry, an independent body funded partly by THA. 

Mana Chobthum, the foundation's secretary-general, said that so far 119 hotels out of about 5,000 properties around the country had participated in the programme, which rates hotel properties into five levels from one to five stars. 

Of the participating 119 hotels, 28 were rated five-star, 48 four-star, 36 three-star and seven two-star. None of the participants was rated one star. 

According to Mr Mana, most participants are current members of the THA. Therefore, he would like to encourage hotel operators that are not THA members to participate as well. 

The foundation expects an additional 50 THA members and about 100 non-THA operators to join the programme this year, said Mr Mana. 
Santichai Euachongprasit, the TAT's deputy governor for tourism products, said the standard rating programme was an important benchmark to help ensure fairness in terms of pricing in the industry. 

The ratings also provide a framework within which hotel properties of the same standard compete on prices. As well, they prevent three-star hotels from raising room charges to the same level as those of five-star hotels in certain areas during peak travel seasons, said Mr Santichai. 

According to Mr Mana, the ratings are given by a five-member committee, comprising representatives from the TAT, THA, ATTA and two university lecturers specialising in the hotel and tourism industry. The standard certificates given to the rated properties are valid for three years. 

Somsak Charoensak, general manager of the China Town Hotel, which was rated three-star by the foundation, said participating in the rating programme had given his property a lot of benefits. 

As travellers know what they can expect from his hotel from the number of stars it has, the hotel's occupancy rate increased by 8.5%. The hotel then can raise its room rates, resulting in an increase in room revenue by 35%. 

Mr Somsak said the rating also gave him more bargaining power when negotiating wholesale room rates with international tour operators. 
''Earlier, international tour operators rated us based on the recommendations of their own staff, which left ample room for argument. Now, we can show them that we have met the standard set by the foundation, and deserve fair room rates for three-star hotels from them,'' he said.

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Copyright (c) 2006, Bangkok Post, Thailand

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