The process of assigning stars to hotels is voluntary in Azerbaijan, and at the moment the issue of the mandatory order is not on the agenda, Head of Public Relations department of the State Agency for Tourism Kanan Guluzade said.
However, Guluzade noticed, despite the fact that the classification process of hotels is voluntary, the presence of stars will become a requirement of time.
He believes that fewer customers will come to hotels with no stars.
"When booking a hotel room, tourist pays attention to the presence of hotel stars,” Guluzade said.
The head of the department noted that in Azerbaijan today there are no mechanisms that lead to the assignment of stars to hotels. Therefore, the Association of Hotels of Azerbaijan was created, and this process will be carried out by this structure.
He noted that the State Agency for Tourism will not take part in the process of classifying hotels. The state agency will only provide its support.
"We want this system to be implemented by a public structure. The Association of Hotels of Azerbaijan will become a member of the European Association of Hotels," Guluzade said.
He went on to say that the classification will be conducted by European experts, the process will be completely transparent.
Earlier, Executive Director of the newly-established Azerbaijan Hotels Association Gunay Saglam said that a new national star rating system will be applied for hotels in Azerbaijan in September-December 2019, and in December hotels will be assigned stars.
A commission on the hotel classification system will be created in May 2019, and training on star classification will be organized for hotels in June-August.
After the implementation of new national hotel system in Azerbaijan, classification of hotels will be held every four years. An anonymous guest will visit a hotel two years after stars are assigned to it, after which it will be defined whether the hotel service corresponds to the assigned stars.
Hotel owners will be informed in advance about the classification criteria. When creating a new hotel classification system, the European experience was taken as a basis. Currently, there are about 500-600 hotels in Azerbaijan.
According to general manager of Ramada Plaza Ganja hotel Emin Hasanov, such a step should have been taken a long ago. "This is a very important issue because many hotels now provide services far below their stars. For example, the hotel with 3 star service level gets 4 stars. The reason for that has been the absence of any classification mechanism in the staring process. But thereafter it will be different. Azerbaijan Hotels Association will carry out the classification process. There will be specific conditions for classification. For example, the 24-hour registration office, fitness and SPA center, the availability of the internet, the room size, and the night service are factors that affect the assigning of stars. The classification in accordance with European standards indicates that certain frameworks will be applied and only hotels that meet these frameworks will remain in the market. Hotels will receive stars according to their service levels,” he noted.
The general manager added that this step is taken, not to obstruct the work of hotels, but rather to help them. "I do not think it would hinder the work of the hotels, but on the contrary, it will help them to improve their service and quality work. It will help eliminate some mistakes in the work process," said Hasanov.
President of the World Health Tourism Organization Ruslan Guliyev emphasized that the classification of hotels will have a significant impact on hotel services in a more professional way. "This issue is topical all over the world and in a tourism industry. The classification process is especially envisaged to improve the quality of service. Hotels are one of the most important nuances in the tourism sector. Of course, every hotel must be assigned a star in accordance with the level of service it provides.
As a result of the accreditation carried out over several years, the number of stars in some hotels can be increased or decreased. The implementation of European experience is also commendable as in recent years, the number of hotels in Baku and the country’s regions has increased. These hotels assign stars themselves without any contractual commitment. I think that the classification will put an end to problems in this area and will have a significant impact on the service of hotels,” Guliyev said.
Tourism expert Muzaffar Agakarimov underlined that some questions arise in the classification process. "After the issue of license issuance was canceled, there was a significant increase in the number of hotels. However, unfortunately, this increase is only in quantity, not in quality. Naturally, there must be a structure, a mechanism to control this. There are also some questions arising. Will the process of assigning stars to hotels be paid or free? By what criteria will stars be assigned?”
"Since the issue of license issuance was canceled, no hotel owner can be forced to join such classification. This process should be voluntary. And most importantly, it is necessary to consult with different tourism agencies when making any decision on tourism. A conclusion should be drawn based on the opinions of different people and after broad discussions,” the expert said.