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The Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, the largest body of hotels in the country, has unveiled an eight-tier system to rank hotels across India, including those already classified under the existing system

Federation officials said the new system, the Indian Hospitality Quality Standards, was being adopted partly because the tourism ministry had classified only about 675 hotels over the past several decades

 According to federation officials, about 60,000 hotels would qualify for assessment under the new system. The hotels will be rated in ascending order as 1 Diamond, 2 Diamond, 3 Diamond, 3 Diamond Plus, 4 Diamond, 4 Diamond Plus, 5 Diamond and 5 Diamond Plus. Of the currently classified 675 hotels, some 165 are five-star and 100 have been rated four-star. Applications from about 125 more hotels are pending with the ministry.

 "The ministry's pace has been extremely sluggish, and the criteria it uses are not in sync with modern times," said Amitabh Devendra, secretary-general of the federation. Neerav Gandhi, an Ahmedabad hotelier who is credited with devising the new rating system, said it would look at several criteria - "comfort, hygiene, security" - that he accused the existing method of ignoring. "We're initiating this exercise primarily to stop online hotel aggregators and agents from arbitrarily listing hotels because of the lack of a comprehensive and standardised system," he said. The federation plans to ask the aggregators and online portals, of whom 13 now operate in India, to classify the country's hotels along the new rating system. "Most hoteliers are unhappy with the existing rating system and are frustrated that the process often takes a year or two to complete," Gandhi said. "We will be much faster."