Georgian guest houses play with stars
25 November, 2010
Georgian guest houses play with stars

Guest Houses are supposed to attract more tourists if they get qualification stars of Global Star, association of Hotels, Restaurants & Cafes of Georgia. Maximum number of stars is four to this end.
To boost tourist inflow in the country and insure protection of tourists’ rights as well as save good name of the country, Global Star with the support of Georgian National Tourist Agency launched the campaign of starring hotels, cafes and restaurants throughout Georgia six months ago. The project

initiators, viewpoint is that tourists’ expectation is frequently deceived in Georgia as far as the service fails to meet the standards and quality that are pledged by web-sites of hotels/restaurants operating in Georgia. That affects reputation of the entire country and undermines the tourism development as such.
“Starring will be implemented throughout entire Georgia. It should lay ground to building decent image of the country, that expectation of tourists would be justified when they arrive in Georgia. Moreover it will regulate prices at the market and tourist would not be paying price of three-star hotel for instance at two-star accommodation. Neither hotels not restaurants were classified up to date and tourists were paying higher prices [when booking rooms at hotels] and were finding lower service when were arriving at place.  Therefore standardization and classification is important,” Maia Sidamonidze, Head of Georgian National Tourism Agency, told Georgian Journal.
And as far as guest houses make significant part of tourist accommodation infrastructure in Georgia specifically in highlands and seaside, Georgian government found apt to equalize standards within this infrastructure as well.
Global Star worked out starring program for guest houses as well that launched on November 15, 2010. The guest-house qualifications are based on Irish standards that seem most suitable to Georgian reality, include 151 criteria and envisage 1-4 star ranking.  
According to Mikheil Batiashvili, Founder of Global star, the guest-house qualification standards include the entire infrastructure and service complex like design of rooms, exterior, interior, yard, car parking, meals, personnel etc.
And yet the starring program is based on volunteer principle and includes EUR 100 of annual payment as a Global Star membership fee, Global Star managed to attract 25 hotels as members since the commencement of the starring program six months ago.  More are under preparation process to improve their infrastructure so as to get desired number of stars. The membership payment includes at least two audits per year, as well as free consultation service, preparation infrastructure for qualification and granting stars. Batiashvili assures that recruiting 25 members in six months is a big success and is defined by raised awareness of owners.
“Owners of hotels and guesthouses understand that stars will increase their reputation and attract more tourists, moreover they will be protected from impostors and swindlers who pretend to be starred hotels,” He told GJ.
According to Bacho Menabde, an owner of Georgian House, a guest-house in old Tbilisi, impostors affect reputation of the entire country and hamper tourism development.
“Everybody is interested to raise awareness of their guest-house and it is important to join such organization like Global Star to this end. It will increase tourists’ inflow, because when tourists see your guest-house on the list of starred hotels they know beforehand where they go and have less pretension when arrive. Not seldom tourists think they chose a four-star hotel and when arrive find inadequate service and have pretension that affects reputation and image of the country and declines tourism inflow,” He explained to GJ.
Georgian law does not envisage any legal punishment for impostors. Sidamonidze believes standardization and qualification of accommodation and catering infrastructure will automatically filter them into the spam-box.
“The classified infrastructure will put stars on their web-site, besides we will also spread information on them. End the impostors will be ousted automatically as far as the more is classified the sooner the market filters things. The classification program is based on volunteer-principle but we want to make an incentive program and those who will go through classification will be included in our advertisement campaigns at international market, put at our web-site. It will help them to sell their product actually,” She said.

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