All hotels in East Africa must now get their stars from EAC By SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT THE EAST AFRICAN Posted Saturday, December 20 2008 at 10:35 Hotels, restaurants and other facilities for accommodation in East Africa will now undergo standardised grading, which will be applied across the region. The grading has taken off in earnest with the graduation of an initial group of trainers under the aegis of the East African Community Secretariat. The group will grade hotels, accommodation facilities and restaurants in all EAC member countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and issue appropriate stars and certificates. The EAC Director of Productive and Social Sectors Secretariat, Dr Nyamajeje Weggoro, made the announcement in Dar es Salaam last week when addressing over 60 representatives of the Tanzania Civil Society on the progress of the process towards a fully integrated East Africa. He said the first group of trainers and graders graduated during the first week of this month. Dr Weggoro said the criteria for awarding the stars to hospitality facilities were endorsed by the EAC Council of Ministers. Any establishment or hotel claiming to have a certain number of stars is fake unless awarded under the new criteria, he said, insisting that all previously self-awarded star-grades will be ignored. Tanzania has seen a rapid growth in hotels and restaurants with many designating their facilities with various gradings. It is not uncommon to see a small hotel claiming to be a five-star facility. Dr Weggoro said the Community was also working towards harmonising tourism and wildlife policies, effective joint tourism promotions overseas, harmonising park fees and a joint EAC visa for tourists similar to the European Unions Shenghen visa. He said the EAC is also working on introducing an e-tourism mechanism to allow tourism transactions to be carried out by East African tourism businesses instead of overseas. Dr Weggoro said other initiatives in the tourism sector are progress on a draft of an MOU between the EAC and the World Tourism Organisation, exploration of stronger tourism markets link in China and Japan and the finalisation of a concept note of an East African Tourism Web portal. The Dar es Salaam meeting was also addressed by EAC Deputy Secretary General Beatrice Kiraso, who countered perception among some members of the Community that Tanzania is against the creation of a political federation. She said all countries expressed some reservations on the fast tracking of the political federation, adding that this was the result of inadequate information on the advantages that will accrue to the member countries. She added: No date has been set for the formation of an EAC political federation. However, she said the EAC Secretariat has embarked on an information campaign in all member countries to explain the advantages of the creation of an integrated EAC Customs Union, the Common Market, the monetary union as well as achievements and stages reached in several regional projects and programmes. Ms Kiraso stressed the need for continuous dialogue among national and regional institutions of governance to exchange ideas, expertise and challenges with a view to harmonising or approximating practices, strategies and policies.