Phrase Of The Month
by: Heng Sopheap (National Institute of Management). Picture by : Jon Bugge. ( August, 2002 Volume 2 No.8 )


Quality tourism results in a high level of tourist satisfaction and at the same time, protects the environment and culture of an area. Today's tourists are becoming increasingly sophisticated and expect good quality facilities and services, bypassing destinations that do not meet their expectations. Quality must be considered for both facilities and services even though service standards are not as precise and more difficult to measure than physical facilities. Tourist facility quality standards are often established at the national or regional levels but, if not, they need to be, adopted at the community level. In many cases, local communities are often responsible for application of the standards and monitoring quality levels as tourism is developed. Minimum standards for hotels and other types of accommodation relate particularly to health, sanitation, comfort and safety standards.
These minimum requirements are typically applied through the hotel licensing and inspection procedures. Above the minimum standards, a hotel classification system is commonly used to differentiate the various quality levels of accommodation establishments. Hotel classification systems are usually based on a one to five star rating, but other systems are also used. These systems serve a useful purpose in indicating to travel agents, tour operators and tourists the general quality levels of the accommodation facilities in an area. Using it as a basis for deciding which facilities to select before tourists arrive at their destination. There is typically a correlation between room rates and the star rating of hotels.
Hotel classification systems also provide a framework to hotel investors in designing their facilities to attract the desired market groups, and an incentive to the hotel owners and manager to upgrade their facilities to higher standards. They are particularly useful in newly developing tourism areas, where entrepreneurs do not yet understand the importance of applying quality standards and what standards should be used. Hotel classification systems are relatively complicated to prepare and apply, but many successful models exist for various regions of the world. Restaurants must also meet minimum health, sanitation and safety standards as part of their licensing and inspection process. In some countries, restaurants are classified according to a rating system. In other places, those restaurants meeting international standards are designed as being suitable for tourist use and are typically called tourist restaurants. This designation can be especially important where there is concern about the hygienic and sanitation standards in local restaurants.
Tour and travel agencies should meet minimum standards of maintaining qualified staff and being financially responsible as part of their licensing requirement. Tour guides should be properly trained and an examination and licensing procedure applied to tour guides. Tour agency quality standards should include: that any tour buses, cars and other vehicles are efficient and safe, and that vehicle drivers are properly licensed. This also applies to car rental agencies. Other vehicles used by tourists such as taxis and tour boats should, also meet safety standards and be operated in a safe manner. An increasing number of countries have adopted consumer protection legislation for tourists. This legislation requires that tour and travel agencies accurately describe the tours that they are selling and clearly state the tour pricing. They should then actually provide the type and quality levels of tourist experiences, facilities and services promised in the tour program. If they do not, they are liable to be sued by the tourists involved.