Dáil Éireann - Volume 477 - 10 April, 1997
Written Answers. - Tourist Accommodation.
Mr. Callely Mr. Callely
24. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade his views on the quality of bed and breakfast establishments available on the Irish market; if he supports the view that all bed and breakfast establishments should be registered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9232/97]
Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. E. Kenny) Enda Kenny
Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. E. Kenny): The setting of standards for the approval of bed and breakfast accommodation is a matter for Bord Fáilte. The standards are set with the clear objective of providing a high quality product for the consumer and are reviewed on an ongoing basis by the board and the relevant approving agencies to ensure such quality is maintained.
On the question of mandatory approval of all bed and breakfast accommodation I do not believe, as I have said many times in the past, that it would be practical or that it would necessarily  improve standards to any great extent. It could in fact reduce the accommodation bank available, particularly during the high season and at the cheaper end of the market, and it would certainly give rise to endless policing and prosecuting problems.
I believe that the best approach is to ensure that the unapproved sector does not have advantages over the approved. At present unapproved operators do not have access to official marketing through Bord Fáilte and the Tourist Information Offices, nor do they have access to tax breaks or other subsidised finance schemes which are available to the approved sector. The pilot tax relief scheme for the tourist resort areas and the subsidised tourism loan schemes were carefully designed so that only approved operators would be eligible.
Unapproved operators, on the other hand, are obliged to comply in the same way as the approved sector with requirements, for example, in the areas of taxation, planning, fire and safety and hygiene. My Department has been impressing on the relevant enforcement agencies the need for constant vigilance to ensure that their policing or inspection practices do not discriminate as between approved and unapproved sectors.
The ideal solution would be for unapproved operators to become approved and I can confirm that both Bord Fáilte and the recognised approving agencies are mounting an information campaign encouraging operators to seek approval and explaining clearly not only what is involved in terms of procedure but also in terms of the benefits to be gained from being part of the approved tourist accommodation sector.
Dáil Éireann 477 Written Answers. Tourist Accommodation.