Tourists – and Israelis – have complained for years that hotel quality in Israel was lacking, and that “five stars” in Israel did not mean the same as five stars for hotels elsewhere in the world. In recent months, the Knesset has invited international ratings firms to classify Israeli hotels based on internationally-accepted standards – and the Knesset Constitutional Committee has approved legislation that will enforce the standards and ratings that are decided upon.
According to the new law, hotels that make false claims on their ratings – presenting themselves as “better” than decided upon by the ratings agencies – will be fined NIS 18,000 ($4,600) per violation for the first violation. Subsequent false advertising will subject the hotels to more and bigger fines.
The Committee was responding to a request by the Tourism Ministry, which for years has been trying to implement international objective standards for hotel ratings. Many Israeli hotels advertise themselves as “five star” resorts, but many tourists complain that they barely make it to a three star rating in terms of the quality of service, condition of the rooms, quality of the food, etc.
Joining the rating system is voluntary, but hotels that do choose to join will be expected to abide by the star ratings they are given by the international agencies. If they do not, the Committee said, hotels can expect to pay steep fines. According to the Committee, “the situation here is out of hand. In Israel, there are 70 hotels that advertise themselves as five star resorts, whereas in the US there are 78 such hotels in the entire country. In Herzliya and Tel Aviv there are 23 of these five star places – while in the entire city of New York there are eight.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin praised the work of the Committee. “We are finally putting an end to the false advertising, whereby hotels advertise themselves as being higher quality than they actually are. I call on all hotels in Israel to join the objective rankings and advertise their quality in a transparent and professional manner, presenting themselves with the number of stars they really deserve.”