Following a two-year study and a series of successful pilot schemes, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the LGA have produced a guide for local authorities, detailing how to tackle the damage done to the country's tourism industry by poor standards of accommodation. It will cover minimum legal requirements regarding health and safety, food safety and hygiene, fire safety and trading standards and advice on handling complaints.
Mr Caborn said:
'We have many excellent and well run hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs across the country offering a fine standard of accommodation to visitors both from this country and abroad. Good standards in quality and safety are a top priority for the English tourism industry. The experience that visitors have of their hotel accommodation is a major part of their impression of this country. A disappointing experience creates a bad image and can significantly harm the country's reputation as a leading tourist destination. Visitors are put off from returning and tell others not to bother either. There is nothing like word of mouth following a bad experience to undermine the considerable progress elsewhere in the industry.
'Government and industry are driving forward an ambitious programme to make tourism - which employs over 7% of the working population - a£100bn a year industry by 2010. There is no place in this for sub-standard accommodation. Those who let the side down must either get their act together or risk being shut down. We want every hotel, guesthouse and B&B in England to aim to be the best.'
Mr White said:
'The launch of this initiative is the culmination of two years' work and we are confident that 'Fitness for Purpose' will make a real impact on the tourism industry. We want to ensure that tourists can be guaranteed a first-class service - accommodation that is judged to be below par can have serious implications for tourist destinations.
'Tourism has a key role to play in local economies up and down the country and it is therefore of great importance that people booking into hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses are provided with a service that complies with certain basic standards.
'The pilot that has been running in six authorities was judged to be a significant success - businesses were keen on the idea and it delivered on making sure that tourists were provided with a service which they could rely on.'
Fitness for Purpose is a joint DCMS/LGA initiative promoting better inspection and regulation of tourist accommodation in England as a way of tackling poor safety and trading standards and ensuring that minimum legal requirements in health and safety, food safety and hygiene, fire safety and trading standards are met. Pilot projects took place from April 2003 to January 2004 in a range of tourist destinations. The local authorities involved were Blackpool BC, Bournemouth BC, Camden LBC, Canterbury City Council, Greenwich LBC and West Sussex CC.
A Blackpool hotelier said of the pilot project in their area: 'We have been in this business many years but the pilot project has been brilliant and we have learned a lot. We're very pleased indeed to have been part of the pilot project'.
Copies are available here.