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Unregistered Accommodation Crackdown 23 June 2004

Tourism Minister David Cretney, Department Member Martyn Quayle MHK, Chief Executive Carol Glover, Director of Tourism Geoff Le Page and Marketing Services Manager Michael Brunt attended a meeting last night (Tuesday) to respond to concerns raised by members of the hospitality industry in the south of the Island.

They gave assurances that TT Homestay will not be activated outside peak periods and that action will be taken against people who accept paying guests in unregistered properties.

Mr Cretney said:

"We don't want this any more than you do and we must work together to eliminate the issue of unregistered properties. People who invest in tourism are justifiably incensed when they discover people are operating illicitly as hotels or B&Bs. My Department was pleased to be able to reassure them that action will be taken to close unregistered operators. Those who are proved to have taken guests without registering their property face prosecution and fines of up to 5,000. In addition, should someone be seriously injured on an unregistered property, they could sue their host for millions of pounds."

Tourism officials assured the hospitality industry that TT Homestay would be activated only for the TT and Manx Grand Prix festivals in 2004. It was activated outside these times - for one month of the summer last year when film productions coincided with popular events, and in 2001 when additional accommodation was required during the NatWest Island Games.

Mrs Glover commented:

"TT Homestay has benefited visitors and residents during the past 17 years but it is now being abused. The Tourism Strategy - Fit For The Future - aims to develop quality. Unregistered operators must not be permitted to damage our image and reputation, or to risk the viability and sustainability of the tourism sector. We will be recommending prosecution for people who are proved, under the Tourist Act 1975, to be trading illegally.

"Also, the potential for litigation against homeowners who host visitors for payment without being registered is frightening. All TT Homestay operators must register every year to open for the weeks when Homestay is active."

The Minister and the team have agreed to develop an action plan and review later in the year at the same forum.

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