Shake-up for hotel ratings

jan 1st: natalie Wyatt head of VisitBlackpool
jan 1st: natalie Wyatt head of VisitBlackpool
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MOVES which could see holiday accommodation star ratings ditched in favour of consumer websites have been met with dismay in Blackpool.

Hoteliers in the resort have been urged to sign up for national accreditation schemes run by VisitBritain in order to drive up quality in the tourism sector.

But a shake-up of the system could see as much weight placed on websites such as Trip Advisor in future because businesses are expected to be given more freedom to decide which ratings system they sign up to.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is looking at whether the internet provides a better tool when it comes to determining the standard of accommodation.

It is expected to encourage any scheme, whether a consumer review site or otherwise, that offers specialist travel advice.

A DCMS spokeswoman said in the past the Government had been pro-active in urging hotels to join the national star rating scheme, but it was now considering whether to encourage people to use other ways of accessing information as well.

She said: “We should encourage that alongside the star rating systems.”

The review of the star rating system is part of a new tourism strategy to be published later this month.

More than 400 accommodation owners in Blackpool have joined the national accreditation scheme run by VisitBritain which offers between one and five stars.

Since April 2009, businesses in the town have been encouraged to join up after Blackpool’s own diamond quality accreditation scheme was scrapped.

Adam Mayes, of the Phoenix Guest House in Cocker Street, said he was having to re-think whether to go for national accreditation

He said: “I’ve seen numerous accreditation systems come and go. We are part of BAGS (Blackpool Accommodation for Gays) and we have been recommending people to become accredited nationally.

“But now we are in two minds.

“Some of the consumer websites have had a bad press because anybody can put their views on, and they have not necessarily even stayed there.”

Mick Grewcock, owner of five star-rated Queens Mansions and Burbage Lodge in Bispham, said: “Like everything, the star rating system has its faults and it’s expensive but it has helped make our business over the years.

“Everybody in the quality end needs to be in it because people are still sceptical about Blackpool and what it has to offer.”

Head of VisitBlackpool Natalie Wyatt added: “When people are part of it they have to invest and we have made great headway on that and we wouldn’t want to see that dwindle.

“But we know people are savvy and they use sites such as Trip Advisor.

“It’s about raising the standard and getting value for money.”