IN A bid to encourage Liverpool hotels to improve standards of service and accommodation, the city's tourism department is offering 75% grants towards the cost of joining the English Tourist Board's Crown classification scheme.
Liverpool City Council's tourism and heritage department has also launched an initiative called the Visitor Accommodation Award, which will use the Crown system as the basis for giving an annual award of excellence to the city hotel which rates most highly within its Crown band.
The prize will include business referral from the city council, a plaque for display, plus various additional grants and free publicity.
The award will be open only to hotels which are or become members of the North West Tourist Board or the Merseyside Tourism and Conference Bureau and have received a Crown classification rating. The move is designed to encourage hotels to participate in tourism development.
A spokesman for the city's tourism department told Caterer that £10,000 had been set aside for the Crown scheme subsidies this year. Next year the grant will be 50% of the cost, followed by 25% in 1996.
As an example, in cash terms, of what the 75% subsidy is worth, the tourism department said a 226-bedroom hotel would pay £119 this year for Crown scheme membership, rather than the full fee of £475. Response so far had been very encouraging, according to the city council.
If the award scheme is successful in raising quality standards in Liverpool's hotels, there are plans to extend it to the city's restaurants, which would have a similar council-sponsored grading and assessment scheme.