Luxury hotels may just lose their fancy star rating if they don*t put you through the stringent (even if at times annoying) security measures
Safety of their guests is soon to figure prominently on the priority list of hotels that wish to retain star classification.
Two years after 26/11, the Department Of Tourism (DOT) has decided to stringently implement rules for security measures a hotel must follow.
Hotels would do well to have the gadgetry and security arrangement specified by the DoT to ensure their guests are safe, because if they don*t, they may lose their star status.
The rule make it mandatory for three-star and above hotels to install equipment for securing their premises against attacks on guests was passed last year.
The ministry does not want to take any chances with the lives of tourists and others, it says. So it decided to make installing security gadgets a part of the rating process.
When MiD DAY asked the Regional Director of India Tourism, Sujata Thakur, about the trouble the hoteliers are likely to go through, she said, "The rule has been passed for hotels across India.
We can*t cater to the demands of only one region. This is for the safety of tourists and our people."
The hotels were given a year to reinforce their security.
"Though the rule technically started applying last year in the wake of the 26/11 attack, we had decided to give some time to the hotels to make the security arrangements. In practice, the rule is applicable from September 2010," Thakur said.
Thakur said that DoT would look for these arrangements during inspection and classification of hotels. "If we find that the concerned hotel does not follow the norms, we will have to rate the hotel accordingly."
DoT does not compel hotels to get rated from them, but if they wish to get classified, they need to follow the ministry*s norms," she said. A hotel is scrutinised for classification every five years.
But securing the premises for people staying at the hotel comes at a cost, and hoteliers are not particularly keen on getting the safety gadgets.
The rule make it mandatory for three-star and above hotels to install equipment for securing their premises against attacks on guests, was passed last year
A hotelier from south Mumbai said, "It should not have been made mandatory. Mine is a small hotel, and we don*t have the funds to purchase the equipment.
We need trained staff to look after these hi-tech machines. Who is going to spend money on these? Feasibility is also an issue for old hotels."
Few others, like the owner of the Diplomat hotel in Colaba, R S Bedi, had no objection to the rule. "We have to flow with the wind.
Now for hotel industry security is the must and all hotels are doing all possible arrangements that they can make to ensure security of their guest," Bedi said.
Grudging the rule, hoteliers feel that their guests are their lookout and securing them is best left up to them. Some felt that the rule should be scrapped.
"We have made an application to the DoT at the Centre to revoke or amend the rule.
Hotels should be given the freedom to choose what they can do for security arrangements of their guests," said S P Jain, owner of Pride Group of Hotels.
Jain said that last year, when Mumbai police had made it mandatory for hotels to install baggage scanners, Hotel and Restaurant Association-Western India (HRA-WI) had written to the then Home Minister Jayantrao Patil, and Director General of Police A N Roy, asking for an exemption from installing luggage scanners. He still adheres to the association*s stance.
"Luggage scanners are exorbitantly priced and their maintenance cost is very high. Moreover, they occupy a lot of space and need trained staff to operate. Small hoteliers should be exempted from this guideline," said Jain, also a former president of HRA-WI.
The president of HRA-WI, Kamlesh Barot, agreed with Jain. "Anybody who plans to get their hotel reclassified or start a new hotel will have to look to get these things in place. Security is now the topmost priority of the hotel industry. But the recent law has spelt trouble for a few small hotels," he said.
Three- to five-star hotels will have to install
>>Metal door detectors,
>>Hand metal detectors,
>>Fire safety equipment.
Five-star deluxe hotels will have to get baggage scanners too.
Guidelines issued by the Mumbai police
>> Install CCTV cameras
>> Install door and hand-held metal detectors
u00a0>> Install baggage scanneru00a0
>> Install fire and burglar alarms
>> Install video door phones
>> Frisk visitors and customers at the hotel
>> Provide photo ID for staff and other officials
>> Deploy security guards