Shake-up call from TV 'hotel inspector'
THE star of hit TV show The Hotel Inspector yesterday called for a shake-up in the ranks of those who do the job for real.Suffolk hotelier Ruth Watson, who in the Five television series advises advises struggling hotels and guesthouses on how to improve, said many people currently employed as hotel inspectors were unsuited to the task.
THE star of hit TV show The Hotel Inspector yesterday called for a shake-up in the ranks of those who do the job for real.
Suffolk hotelier Ruth Watson, who in the Five television series advises advises struggling hotels and guesthouses on how to improve, said many people currently employed as hotel inspectors were unsuited to the task.
She also called for an overhaul of the hotel rating system, to focus more strongly on quality issues rather as well as the range of facilities on offer.
Delivering the keynote speech at the Suffolk Tourism Partnership's annual conference, Mrs Watson attributed the popularity of The Hotel Inspector to the fact that people have invariably had either a good or bad experience of staying in a hotel.
Problems with the present rating system included potential for confusion over the differences between a four-star guesthouse and a four-star hotel and the use of criteria based on function rather than quality.
Third party accreditation was valuable and there was a strong case for all hotels and guesthouses to be required to meet certain minimum standards under a local authority licensing scheme, said Mrs Watson.
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However, she believed the rating system should be replaced by a series of bronze, silver and gold stars, with the colour of the stars indicating the type of facilities offered - from bronze denoting a guesthouse to gold representing a luxury hotel - and the number of stars representing a measure of quality.
Mrs Watson - who together with husband David has run the Crown & Castle in Orford for the past eight years, having previously owned Hintlesham Hall and the Fox & Goose at Fressingfield - said the appearance of some hotel inspectors, “wearing ill-fitting suits which look as if they come from Walthamstow market”, also left her wondering why anyone should trust their ratings.
Tourist authorities should stop employing inspectors who were “failed hoteliers, pen-pushers or graduates with university degrees in hotel management without any other experience”, she added.
Yesterday's event was the first conference to be held at the historic Theatre Royal in Bury Edmunds following its recently-completed £5.5million restoration.
Artistic director Colin Blumenau welcomed delegates to the conference and said the theatre itself planned to target the tourism market more seriously than before. The conference programme also included updates on past and forthcoming promotional campaigns from Chris Bushby, chairman of the Suffolk Tourism Parntership, and Scott Dolling, tourism marketing manager at the Suffolk Development Agency.
n VisitBritain has called for more Government investment in marketing Britain abroad after figures showed a 13% slump in year-on-year overseas visitor numbers to the UK in August.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 3.24million people came to the country in August and spent £1.770million, 4% less than in the same period last year, although overall inbound visitor spending in the first eight months of this year remained 2% ahead of 2006 at £10,680million and total visitor numbers were virtually unchanged.
The organisation is calling for a “moderate” increase in the £50million it has previously received in Government grant aid, arguing that the figure needs to be increased to address the country's “tourism deficit” of more than £18billion - the difference between spending by Britons overseas and overseas visitors in the UK.
It also wants £20million to market Britain at the 2012 Olympics, which it sees as an ideal promotional tool for encouraging more overseas visitors to Britain.