New Delhi, Sept. 6: Be Indian, spray like Indians.
The tourism ministry has taken a bottom-up approach to Indian culture by asking star hotels to junk their toilet paper-only policy. Their bathrooms must now have water sprays and bidets, too.
“It’s essentially a western trend to keep only toilet paper in the loo but many Indian hotels, especially five-star hotels, practise this. When the French, Spanish, Italians and East Asians are not shy about using water, why are we?” a senior ministry official wondered.
The directive is part of the ministry’s revised guidelines for hotel classification, and comes following what officials described as “overwhelming demand” from customers during a recent ministry survey.
All new star hotels that begin operations from April 2016 will need to have sprays and bidets right from the outset. The existing hotels, which may need a plumbing overhaul to carry out the change, have been set a 2022 deadline.
A worried hospitality industry has asked the ministry to excuse the existing hotels.
“Introducing bidets and even water sprays will require extensive plumbing. We cannot do that in existing hotels. So we have requested the ministry to introduce these changes only with prospective effect,” said M.D. Kapoor, general secretary of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurants Association of India.
Some others have welcomed the move.
“It is not in Indian culture to use toilet paper. This is a legacy left by the British. It is detrimental to nature, too, since so many hundreds of trees are cut down to make paper,” said Bindeshwari Pathak, chairperson of Sulabh International, a sanitation NGO.
“The five-star hotels have been following this (toilet paper-only) policy so that they don’t lose out on business, without realising that many of their clients are Indians.”
The new guidelines also include provisions to enforce transparency about hidden costs, such as:
Hotels can no longer leave their guests guessing about their star status. From next April, each must prominently display its status outside the hotel and at the reception.
Hotels’ websites must spell out all the complimentary facilities and toiletries provided. They must clearly mention which items are free and which are not in a complimentary breakfast. “There should be no hidden costs,” a senior ministry official said.
The websites must also spell out what facilities are provided only “on request” but are included in the room rent.
All hotels with four-star or higher ranking must provide complimentary tea and coffee-making facilities in rooms.
Hotels with three-star or higher ranking must provide an electric iron and an ironing board, a hair dryer, a mini-fridge and a safe in every room.