Malawi launches hotel grading system

Malawi hotelBy Promise Zalakata KamangaLilongwe, Malawi- At least 100 hospitality units in Malawi are expected to be graded following the launch of the system end last week.

This is the first time in the history of the country to have its accommodation units graded since its independence in 1964.

The grading system, which has been postponed several times before, stands to be the real test of hospitality industry and the local consumer body has since commended its introduction.

“Names will be changed if what claims to be a hotel is only a lodge, every unit will be called by its grade,” said Patricia Liabuba, Assistant Director responsible for Standards and Services in the Ministry of Tourism.

Apart from star grading with one to five stars, the system also seeks to categorize the units into hotels, lodges, guest houses and others according to the standard of their services.

Tourism Minister, Dr Ken Lipenga has described the introduction of the system as a step towards boosting the country’s tourism sector.

He said in the past tourists visiting the country had wrongly been booked in a five star hotel when the country did not have one.

Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA), a local consumer protection body, said the system will benefit consumers who have for long been duped.

CAMA executive director John Kapito said consumers will now have a basis to negotiate on accommodation charges since the grading will also determine prices.

According to Liabuba, major hotels will be the first to be graded before turning to small hotels, lodges and guest houses, in that order.

A team comprising representatives from Tourism and Hotels Board, consumers, Director of Tourism and Master Assessor will be examining assessment report and award stars.

Peoples Republic of China is currently funding the first ever five star hotel currently under construction the capital city, Lilongwe. The twelve storey hotel is being constructed together with first ever International Conference Centre and 14 presidential villas to the tune of US$90 million.