Everyone who books certified1 accommodation in Northern Ireland should expect that the accommodation is of a good standard and fulfils customer expectations. Whilst the tourism industry aims to make your experience one you want to repeat, there may be occasions when you are not satisfied with your accommodation.
If there is a problem with the accommodation, you should raise this with the premises owner as soon as possible, preferably at the time of your stay, to enable resolution. If, however, the matter is not resolved and you wish to refer this to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), you may do so.
NITB is not required by legislation to investigate complaints; however, NITB is constantly striving to raise standards and professionalism within the industry, and will investigate complaints where appropriate.
In order to investigate the complaint fully, NITB will copy your complaint to the premises, including your personal details. If you do not wish these details to be given to the premises, NITB may not be able to fully investigate/resolve your complaint.
It is difficult to resolve complaints which allege rudeness on the part of the proprietor or those about the attitude or behaviour of the proprietor/staff. If this is denied, NITB has no means of determining the truth. In such cases NITB will record the complaint and if similar complaints are received NITB will review these with the premises. It is, however, very difficult to address these issues if not experienced first hand.
Perceived Differences in Star Ratings
NITB’s Quality Assurance Grading Scheme gives more consideration to the quality and condition of facilities and services provided than the minimum standards laid down in legislation. This means that a property which may not be considered modern, may be awarded the same star rating as a newly built premises. Details of our Quality Assurance Grading Scheme are available here and this lists the criteria each premises should meet.
NITB, generally, has no control over the content of an establishment’s internet web site or brochure and if you wish to take this matter further yourself, it may be appropriate to pursue the complaint with the Trading Standards Office or the Advertising Standards Authority. If, however, a person is offering to provide tourist accommodation in an establishment in respect of which a certificate has not been granted by NITB, NITB is empowered, by law, to bring proceedings against such a person. If you become aware of any non-certified establishments providing, or offering to provide accommodation, this should be reported to NITB in the first instance.
NITB cannot become involved in a dispute over compensation claims; therefore you may decide whether or not you wish to pursue this matter further yourself. If you decide to do this you may need to get advice from a solicitor or specialist agencies such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. NITB cannot do this for you, nor can we give legal advice on individual cases.
NITB cannot become involved in any dispute of a contractual nature between yourself and a premises such as refunds, or charges. As with all complaints, NITB recommends that you contact the property directly to discuss this matter with them to try to come to an amicable agreement. If this is not possible you may need to seek advice from a solicitor, specialist agencies such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or consider resolution through the small claims court.
NITB cannot become involved in legal disputes where Police, Trading Standards, Environmental Health or solicitors are involved. We cannot give legal advice on individual cases.
Useful Contact Information
NITB Contact Information
NITB Quality & Standards team, 028 9044 1545, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Under the Tourism (Northern Ireland) Order 1992, all premises in Northern Ireland offering tourist accommodation must be certified by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB). NITB will inspect premises annually and issue a certificate if the premises complies with legislative standards. If a premises does not fully comply, NITB can issue a certificate, along with conditions which must be met within a specified timeframe. Failure to do so may result in the certificate for the premises being revoked.
Certification is the legislative requirement and all premises must comply with the minimum standards set. The Quality Assessment Scheme (star rating) is a voluntary scheme for all accommodation (excluding campus accommodation and bunk houses) where a star rating is provided based on the quality and condition of facilities and services provided by the premises. NITB will also make recommendations to the premises owner on how to maintain or improve quality.