TOURISM MINISTER Yariv Levin (left) poses with Hotel Yehuda General Manager Yishay Barnea.
(photo credit: DAFNA TAL, WWW.GOISRAEL.COM)
Several months after initiating an official Israeli hotel-ranking system based on Europe’s Hotel Star’s standards, the Tourism Ministry on Thursday awarded its first certificate to the Hotel Yehuda in Jerusalem.
During a brief ceremony at the hotel, located on Haim Kulitz Road near the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin presented general manager Yishay Barnea with a framed four-star certificate.
According to Ahuva Zaken, the ministry’s senior deputy director of service quality, the rating’s standards are based on the European system, which provides one to five star rankings based on myriad of criteria.
“We are not members of Hotel Star’s, but we are adopting their system and hoping that in the future we will become a member,” said Zaken.
In the meantime, she said that legislation introduced earlier this year forbids hotels from independently ranking themselves on their websites.
“They are not allowed to use the stars at all,” she said. “If they do that it’s against the law.
Only after they get a certificate from the Tourism Ministry are they allowed to put a star ranking on their websites, or anywhere else they want.”
Still, Zaken said hotels can issue star ratings if they were provided by internationally recognized associations, including booking.com.
Asked why the rating system is so significant, Barnea cited the importance of a level playing field in terms of gauging meaningful standards.
“We would like to see all the hotels at the same level,” he said. “When the guest comes to the hotel – no matter where it is in the country – they will see if the ranking is five stars, or four stars, or three stars. It should be the same standard.”
While Amir Halevi, director general of the Tourism Ministry, said that hotels in the country currently are not mandated to submit to being ranked by the ministry, he said that will likely change by the end of the year.
“Right now we only have 25 hotels that have volunteered to be rated by the ministry, and this is the first hotel to be rated,” he said. “But we hope that by the end of the year all hotels will have to take part.”
Noting the relatively low levels of tourism to the country since last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, Levin said he hopes the new system will help attract visitors from abroad.
“I am working in cooperation with other countries to market joint packages for tourists who come from afar,” he said. “I have already talked about this [ranking system] with deputy minister in charge of tourism in Italy and the Cyprus tourism minister, and I certainly am determined to promote this issue.”