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Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK


MPs attack 'MacFawlty Towers'

Fawlty Towers - the comic symbol of a bad hotel

A committee of MPs has attacked 'Fawlty Towers'-style standards at some Scottish hotels and bed and breakfasts.

And they have criticised the new Scottish Executive for failing to appoint a tourism minister to tackle problems in the industry.

BBC Scotland reporter Asad Ahmad: "Scottish tourism is big business"
The 11 members of the Common's Scottish Affairs Select Committee were generally happy with standards but some locations bore the hallmarks of Fawlty Towers, the popular seventies BBC comedy series.

Sticky lino, over-priced rooms, poor facilities for wheelchair users and reluctant staff were just some of the problems faced.

And it was not only hoteliers and B&B owners who came under fire.

The committee also attacked the new Scottish Executive for not appointing a minister with sole responsibility for tourism.

It has now called on Scottish First Minister Donald Dewar and his team to reconsider its initial decision.

Henry McLeish, the Scottish minister whose remit includes tourism, was quick to defend the industry.

[ image: Henry McLeish: Pledges]
Henry McLeish: Pledges
He said: "We can achieve a world class industry through the set up we already have.

"It is a major industry in this country and we are taking this matter seriously.

"What we must do now is work in partnership with everyone to ensure success over the next 10 to 20 years."

The committee's litany of "bad experiences" included:

  • A hotel with "sticky" linoleum on the bathroom floor

  • Another which offered a wheelchair-bound MP an unadapted room

  • A hotel which would not serve residents a drink in the bar, even when locals were clearly being served after closing time

  • A bed and breakfast which charged 20% more than the original quote

  • A train company in England which forced the wheelchair-bound MP to use the guard's compartment

Chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, David Marshall, said the standard of tourist accommodation in Scotland was very "hit and miss".

He added: "We found a lot to be positive about, but we could do so much better. We still have a long way to go to match the equal standards which apply throughout most of north America and the USA and Canada in particular.

Very variable

"In Scotland it can be very variable. It can be hit and miss. You can have some very good, some not so good and others which are pretty poor."

MPs said a licensing system should be introduced along the lines of a system in place in Northern Ireland.

"We can see no reason why such a scheme could not be introduced in Scotland," they said.

"We recommend a system of compulsory registration which requires all accommodation providers to meet basic safety, hygiene and public insurance liability standards."

[ image: Tom Buncle: Call to private sector]
Tom Buncle: Call to private sector
However, despite uncomfortable stays at some locations, the MPs said they were "generally impressed" with the overall level of improvement in facilities.

Scottish Tourist Board Chief Executive Tom Buncle said he accepts the industry needs to improve.

He said: "I think we do need to look at how we can improve the quality of what's on offer and the value.

"But that is not up to government, it is also up to the private sector.

"We will market the country, we will bring visitors in but the quality and value for money has to be offered by private operators themselves."

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