The British need to be more vocal in their criticism of poor UK hotels if they want standards to improve, tourism minister Kim Howells said this week as he opened the Hotelympia 2002 exhibition at London's Earls Court.
"The British don't moan enough," he said. "We ought to be far more ready to complain than we are. That's the difference between us and the Yanks - they are much pickier and choosier.
"I think that has got through to the big hotel chains. They have developed their own bench marks so they know their hotels are there or thereabouts."
Howells said people were generally satisfied with UK hotels, with two major exceptions: budget-end hotels in areas like London's Earls Court, and seaside hotels. Both categories were criticised for being overpriced.
He added that UK residents who usually took holidays in places like Majorca were used to a certain minimum standard of accommodation. In the UK they were less sure of what they would find. "You can't rely on the more simple categorisations," Howells said.
He added that there was a need to reduce red tape in the industry (and was heading to 10 Downing Street after the opening to discuss the issue with the prime minister).
He went on: "If we don't get a licensing bill in the next Queen's Speech, we'll have to do it through regulatory orders."
Declaring Hotelympia open, he said the show was the place for the hospitality industry to demonstrate what it did well and to showcase "the best of the best".