A new Regulation on the classification of hotels came into force on 27 February 2019. It was approved by the Russian government in line with recent amendments* to the Federal Law “On the Framework of Tourism Activities in the Russian Federation”* which came into force on 1 January 2019. The changes are aimed at introducing a mandatory classification of various types of hotels, ski slopes and beaches by accredited organisations.
In line with the changes, hotel services may be lawfully provided only if there is a certificate of assignment for the relevant category. Administrative penalties may be imposed in the absence of the relevant certificate.
Only accredited organisations may classify tourist facilities. In turn, such organisations and the control of their activities are accredited by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, which also maintains lists of classified tourist facilities (for hotels*, ski slopes* and beaches*) and a list of accredited organisations*.
The new version of the Law defines “hotel” as a means of accommodation providing hotel services, and establishes that hotels should be classified into certain categories, in accordance with the Regulation approved by the Russian government.
The new Regulation* applies to any hotel, health resort, recreation centre, apartment hotel, motel, apartment complex, floating hotel, hostel, farmer guest house, mountain shelter or similar facility. All such facilities must be classified as either five, four, three, two, one or zero stars, depending on the degree of compliance with the established requirements. The highest category is “five stars” and the lowest, “zero stars”.
The classification of hotels is carried out in three stages:
- expert check of the hotel;
- adoption of a decision on assigning a certain category to a hotel; and
- processing and obtaining a certificate of assignment of a certain category to a hotel.
After a facility is classified by an accredited organisation, a decision is made on whether to assign a certain category. If given, the facility will receive a certificate that is valid for three years. Certificates issued before 1 January 2019 will remain valid until their expiration date.
Ski slopes and beaches are also categorised in accordance with the previously adopted Classification Rules*. Ski slopes are categorised based on their level of difficulty: black, red, blue and green (in order of decreasing difficulty).
There are also three categories for beaches, signified by a blue flag for a category I beach, a green flag for a category II beach and a yellow flag for a category III beach (in order of decreasing quality level).
Once a tourist facility has been assigned a certain category, it must display a sign in the form prescribed by the Regulation and Rules. The facility must only indicate the category assigned to it in the course of its advertising and business practices.
Providing hotel services without a certificate indicating a category, or citing a category in advertising or business that does not correspond with the certificate will result in administrative liability in the form of a warning, or a fine of RUB 7,000 – 10,000 (EUR 96 – 137) for company officials, and RUB 40,000 – 50,000 (EUR 548 – 685) for legal entities. The provisions on administrative liability take effect for hotels with more than 50 rooms on 1 July 2019, for hotels with more than 15 rooms on 1 January 2020 and for all other hotels on 1 January 2021.
Similar penalties for ski slopes and beaches have not yet been established.
The classification of tourist facilities is aimed at providing consumers with reliable information on the compliance of hotels, ski slopes and beaches with the requirements established by law. In our opinion, this is necessary to improve the competitiveness and quality of hotel services, and to increase and further develop tourism in Russia.