Written Answers. - Tourist Accommodation.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

48 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the plans, if any, he has to license all tourist accommodation. [15199/98]

As I have indicated to this House in the past and most recently in December 1997, there is already in place an extensive system of registration and listing in accordance with standards set by Bord Fáilte.

One of Bord Fáilte's functions is the registration of certain types of tourist accommodation such as hotels, guesthouses, holiday cottages, holiday apartments and holiday hostels. Arising from the implementation of the recommendations of the review of Bord Fáilte carried out by consultants Arthur D. Little Limited in 1994, the inspection activities associated with these functions were contracted to a third party, Tourism Quality Services Limited.

In addition, Bord Fáilte's system of approval for listing accommodation in the bed and breakfast sector was also out-sourced to industry associations formally recognised by Bord Fáilte, as self-regulatory bodies, on the basis that they apply Bord Fáilte agreed standards.
The issue of licensing all tourist accommodation has been examined by successive administrations over the years and they have all come to the same conclusion that any compulsory system in order to be effective would require endless administration and policing, particularly as many operators only operate for short periods of the year. All providers of accommodation for tourists are obliged, whether approved or unapproved, to comply with official requirements in areas such as taxation, planning, fire and safety and hygiene. Earlier this year, I wrote to my ministerial colleagues with responsibility in these areas asking them to ensure that there are no advantages for unapproved operators in the application of the law.
I believe that the best solution is to encourage unapproved operators to become approved and to this end both Bord Fáilte and the recognised approving bodies will continue to encourage all operators to seek approved status. They will explain to them not only what is involved in terms of procedure, but also the benefits to be gained from being part of the approved sector, including access to official marketing through Bord Fáilte and the tourist office network, and access to the tax breaks or other subsidised finance schemes which are available.