THE Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas is urging tourism establishments, particularly hotels, resorts and apartels, in Negros Occidental to aim for higher star ratings which correspond to the level of compliance to international standards.

DOT-Western Visayas reported that as of January 17, there are only 17 star-rated properties in the region, including Negros Occidental, under the National Accommodation Standards for Hotels, Resorts and Apartment Hotels set by the agency.

Of the 17, two are from the province, specifically Bacolod City.

These are the L’ Fisher Chalet with three-star ratings and Palmas Del Mar Conference Resort Hotel with two stars.

Only six establishments, all in Boracay, currently have the highest star ratings.

DOT has given five stars to Discovery Shores Boracay, Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa, 7 Stones Boracay Suites, Asya Premier Suites, Henann Regency Beach Resort and Spa, and Henann Garden Resort.

DOT-Western Visayas Regional Administrative Officer Artemio Ticar said on Thursday, the provision of star ratings started last year upon the mandate of the agency’s central office to modify the classification of these establishments.

Ticar, the designated tourism area development head for Negros Occidental, said the new classification sets more comprehensive criteria to make sure that accommodation facilities meet the international standards.

The highest rating is five stars, or previously equivalent to deluxe level of classification. The lowest is one star, or those economy class establishments.

“The bigger the points, the higher the star ratings,” he said, adding that “more stars mean the establishment is more compliant to international standards.”

Among the areas considered by the DOT for star ratings are the quality of service and amenities, availability of rooms for big conventions, and the kind of food offered to clients, among others.

Those with more than 900 points are given five-star ratings, Ticar said.

In Bacolod City, DOT has yet to conduct the star rating evaluation for Business Inn, Bacolod Pavillon Hotel, Planta Hotel, Grand Regal Hotel, and L’ Fisher Hotel.

The DOT cannot yet provide the star rating for other tourism establishments in the province since they have not yet secured DOT accreditation, Ticar said.

“We are encouraging accredited tourism establishments in the province to really aim for higher stars by improving the level of their service,” he said.

To equip establishments, the agency is also doing measures like providing them recommendations for improvement.

Star-rated properties have competitive advantage among other establishments, he said, adding that these are more attractive to rich market as well as large conventions and gatherings.