9 February 1996

Making grade can

help business…

UNDER Northern Ireland law certification is a legal requirement for every establishment offering visitor accommodation. In the rest of the UK tourist board inspection of accommodation for classification and grading is merely an option.

But independent research by the Tourism Company has shown that those using English farm-based accommodation were influenced by the fact that accommodation had been inspected by the tourist office and graded. Figures showed that 52% of bed and breakfast visitors and 55% of those booking self-catering accommodation took this into account both for indicating facilities and assuring standards.

Facilities available to visitors are indicated by the "Listed" classification and the awards of one to five crowns. Quality is graded as: Approved, Commended, Highly Commended or De Luxe. These grades are applied to all establishments, from small B&Bs to big hotels irrespective of classification. Each can reach a standard of excellence appropriate to its market. The option of "classification only" ceases this spring.

The Farm Holiday Bureau recently made accommodation grading a requirement of membership for the 1000 and more establishments whose facilities it promotes. This is proving to be a sound move for it is already helping members sell their accommodation abroad. So much so that from 1997 the British Tourist Authority will cease to produce its own international guide and use that produced by the FHB instead.

ADAS and the English Tourist Board are now encouraging all farmhouse bed and breakfast proprietors to get tourist board certification for their accommodation in order to boost their businesses.

With the help of the Farm Holiday Bureau, they have set up a series of six presentations to show the benefits of grading to farm-based accommodation providers. These take place throughout March and will be hosted by FHB members scattered across the country.

Venues and dates are as follows: The Beeches Farmhouse, Derbyshire (Mar 5); Oakdown Farm Bungalow, Hants (Mar 7); Rectory Farm, Oxon (Mar 13), Goose Green Farm, Cheshire (Mar 19); Blackmore Farm, Somerset (Mar 22) and Rockells Farm, Essex (Mar 26).

The presentations are free but there will be a charge of £5 for a buffet lunch payable on the day.

If you would like to attend one of these events please contact Delia Halsey, ADAS Guildford, 98 Epsom Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 2LD (01483-562881) Fax (01483-565356).