No more Fawlty hotels

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The Independent Online
Tourists should be spared the trauma of staying in Basil Fawlty- style hotels when they visit Britain by being offered a national star-rating system for holiday accommodation, a cross-party Commons select committee said.

The system would end the confusion of the present star-rating system operated by a wide range of bodies, including the three tourists boards for England, Wales and Scotland, and motoring organisations such as the RAC and the AA.

The Commons select committee on National Heritage heard that the tourist boards and the motoring organisations will produce a unified star-rating system for hotels in Britain by the end of the year.

But the committee, chaired by Gerald Kaufman, the former shadow foreign secretary, said if that did not work the Government would have to step in with a compulsory statutoryscheme to warn tourists of the Fawlty Towers- style hotels. As a first step, the committee recommended that a statutory list be drawn up of premises offering accommodation to visitors.

The Secretary of State for National Heritage, Virginia Bottomley, warned that a statutory star-rating scheme would be bureaucratic and the tourist industry would have to bear the cost. It could raise the prospect of Basil Fawlty facing visits from the Government inspector of hotels, instead of the man from the Good Hotel Guide.

The committee said the level of hotel facilities was relatively easily measured. But the star-rating would have to sum up the quality of service too.

Its report also recommended a four-fold increase in the grants to the British Tourist Board, and the committee was scathing of the failure to do more to bring tourists to Britain.

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