British government officials have confirmed they are to scrap the national hotel star rating system, branding the present situation “bizarre”.
In comments to BBC Radio, tourism minister John Penrose suggested industry websites – such as TripAdvisor – could provide a more efficient service.
“We would like to get people to use those websites rather more frequently, but also if the industry wants to carry on running a star rating system off its own back that is absolutely fine as well,” Penrose told Radio 4.
“It is rather bizarre the government is involved in rating hotels when, for example, there is no government rating scheme for cars or cornflakes; I am not quite sure why hotels are so special.”
The present system has been attacked in the past, with hoteliers arguing it is an expensive process for small businesses.
Bureaucratic loopholes also see quality properties miss out on top rankings through technicalities – such as not having a 24-hour reception.
A government decision on funding for the scheme is expected next month.
However, VisitEngland – which administers the present scheme – has argued the present system could be recalibrated rather than abolished.
“Our star rating scheme is not in question at all,” said Jenny McGee of VisitEngland.
“What we are looking at in our current review is how we can support the scheme in a reduced-funding environment, with higher fees from industry a possibility,” she added.
The situation in Britain is in stark contrast to that in the Middle East, where Abu Dhabi and Jordan both implemented a five-star classification system for their hotels last year.
However, the move has won support in some quarters.
Marcus Simmons, managing director of accommodation directory iknow-uk said: “The review system, if handled properly, can be a really useful tool for holidaymakers, and sites like Tripadvisor have become essential reading for Brits planning a trip away and people from overseas visiting the UK.
“However, if not moderated, it is easy for these types of public forums to be misused.”