Local people providing accommodation for Derry’s growing tourist influx, have been advised to get themselves certified ahead of the summer season.
Every tourism accommodation provider must be certified by Tourism NI to operate legally and the body said that costs are as little as £40.
Tourism NI has now launched a new accommodation certification campaign to encourage all accommodation providers in Derry to get visitor ready this year.
The industry-wide campaign has been backed by the NI Fire and Rescue Service and Trading Standards,.
There are currently 47,556 bed spaces across Northern Ireland in a range of establishments from hotels and B&Bs to hostels and bunkhouses.
Aine Kearney, Tourism NI’s Director of Business Support and Events said: “There has been a 20% increase in certified accommodation from 2016 to 2017, 13% of those certified were trading without a certificate. More importantly, trading without certification could result in legal action against the operator as well as reputational damage to the wider industry.
“The process of applying for certification is very simple and can be completed online. It is cost effective with fees as low as £40 for a four year period. Once you are certified, we will carry out one statutory inspection of the property over the four year period. This ensures that all providers are aware of the need to comply with relevant regulations affecting accommodation, can operate on a level playing field, not compromise on quality.”
James McLaughin owns Finedays Cottage just outside the city and had the facility certified in June 2017.
Mr. McLaughlin said: “Certification has opened up a range of support services for me. Tourism NI has offered lots of practical guidance and support for the business.
“I also attended a workshop in Derry recently that coached owners in social media, marketing and advertising, which was useful to help build awareness for the property.
“From a visitors’ perspective if your property is certified, it definitely gives more confidence in selecting accommodation. Knowing that you’ve booked somewhere that meets safety criteria and regulations is reassuring and will enhance the overall experience for every guest.”
To find out about accommodation certification information sessions or how to get your premises certified please visit forms.tourismni.com/forms/ or via www.tourismni.com/accommodation
The benefits of certification gives business owners the chance to engage directly with Tourism NI and obtain access to a wide range of services including start-up advice, direction on operational issues, marketing guidance, social media support and free listings on Discover NI’s website.