Culture Media and Sport written question – answered on 9th February 2012.

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Photo of Michael Weir Michael Weir Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport

(1) what plans his Department has to review its plans for the National Quality Assessment Scheme in England following the adjudication of the Advertising Standards Authority in respect of complaint reference A11-16687 by Kwikchex Ltd;

(2) what steps his Department is taking to ensure that visitors to the UK are provided with accurate and impartially-assessed information on the standards and quality of tourist accommodation; and if he will make a statement;

(3) if he will make it his policy to ensure that overseas visitors to all parts of the UK are given the option of accessing information on the quality and standard of tourist accommodation to a standard equivalent to VisitScotland's Quality Assurance scheme.

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)

I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave him on 2 February 2011, Hansard, column 819W and 17 March 2011, Hansard, columns 525-26W. Our basic approach has not changed, we want to encourage any scheme that improves the quality of tourist accommodation information available for visitors, particularly when specialist information is required such as accessibility or how ‘green' a provider is. However, a quality-assessed star rating is no longer the only proviso for booking accommodation, and many potential customers now rely on personal feedback on customer review sites. Consumers choose which websites to use based on whether they trust the information they contain. Alternative websites are, of course, always only a click away so we shall see whether the Advertising Standards Board ruling alters consumer views about Tripadvisor or not.

Until the end of March 2012, the and websites will list all star-rated accommodation in England and the UK respectively. From April 2012, VisitEngland ratings will be searchable on: the official website of the licensee responsible for VisitEngland's quality assessment scheme. The AA has its own website: where ratings can be checked, as do VisitScotland, Visit Wales and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. Many third party commercial websites also choose to display official star ratings and Quality in Tourism and the AA will continue to supply ratings data on a regular basis.

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