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Quality Grading

Awards schemes and independent assessment for star ratings can be a great way to health check your business on an annual basis. Taking a closer look at how your business is evolving in a changing business environment will help you to grow your customer base and give you new opportunities to market your business which has the potential to make you stand out from your competitors.

The Visit Dorset Tourism Partnership supports the National Quality Assurance Schemes VisitEngland (now operated by AA from 2017), the original AA scheme, and the Dorset Approved Visitor Accommodation Scheme (DAVAS), which are still seen as a quality standard for many visitors.

Businesses that are not participating in an accredited scheme will be able to work with the Partnership, providing that they are willing to comply with and sign our Visit Dorset Accommodation Charter.

The charter stipulates that the business must fulfil all legal obligations and responsibilities, maintain good standards of service and cleanliness, welcome all visitors courteously and without discrimination and have a cancellations & complaints policy. The businesses will sign the charter to confirm that these terms and conditions have been met.

VisitEngland Star Ratings

Quality Grading SchemeA commitment to quality. A label guests trust. A differentiator from your competitors. Taking part in VisitEngland's National Quality Assessment Scheme and gaining an official star rating can improve your guest experience, helping your business thrive.

By providing clear objectives to complete, as well as a method of benchmarking against your competitors, the assessment scheme can help you to develop your business. Plus displaying your official star rating logo has real promotional benefits.

The scheme is delivered on behalf of VisitEngland by the AA. To find out more information on the schemes, including criteria, fees and how to apply, visit the Visit Britain website.

Call - 01256 491111

email -

Dorset Approved Visitor Accommodation Scheme

Dorset Approved Visitor Accommodation SchemeThis scheme aims to give the visitors reassurance that the accommodation meets all legal requirements and offers an acceptable level of cleanliness and comfort. It consists of a short inspection primarily focused on health and safety factors as required by the law and basic good practices for a professional business.

The scheme is accredited by VisitEngland and the criteria agreed by them to conform to other schemes run across the country; assessments, which will take approximately 1-1.5 hours depending on the size of the business, will be undertaken by Quality in Tourism, VisitEngland’s assessment service contractor. This grading will still allow you to take part in local destination accommodation guides and regional marketing campaigns.

The annual participation fee for most businesses does work out less expensive than the full National Quality Grading Scheme. Fees for 2015/16 can be downloaded here: Dorset Fees 16-17

AA Hotel Services

AA Hotel Services

The AA has been inspecting and recommending accommodation since 1908 and an AA rating is one of the most trusted forms of recognition in the hospitality industry.

When you become a member of the AA's recognised Hotel or Guest House Schemes, you will enjoy an excellent range of benefits including:

~ National recognition and signage
~ Publications and listings
~ Online exposure
~ Online Bookings
~ Smartphone apps
~ Further AA benefits

AA Self Catering Scheme

The AA now offers a Self Catering scheme throughout the UK.

The criteria for the assessment of self-catering properties have been designed to set achievable and measurable standards, benefiting both visitors and accommodation providers. The recognition scheme will ensure a consistent standard is implemented and maintained throughout the sector.

~ visit from an AA inspector and professional report
~ unlimited use of the UK's most trusted brand in all of your promotional material
~ annual classification certificate
~ your page on – a website that attracts over 10 million visitors a month – including a photograph of your establishment, plus contact details.

AA Pennant Ratings SchemeAA Pennant Rating Scheme

Camping & Caravan Parks

Caravan parks and campsites are inspected and rated using a one to five black Pennant rating. This is an assessment of various factors including customer care and hospitality, toilet facilities and park landscaping, based on the inspector's experienced opinion. The percentage score runs from 50% to 100%, and indicates the relative quality of parks with the same number of pennants. The Pennant ratings increase with the quality and variety of facilities a park offers. The top level is classified as a Five Pennant Premier Park, with a merit score.

The AA Pennant rating is only based on the touring pitches and the facilities at campsites and caravan parks. AA inspectors do not visit or report on rented static caravans or chalets.

Holiday Centres

Holiday Centre is the term used to distinguish a park that caters for all holiday needs. Anyone staying on one of these parks will have no need to go elsewhere for meals or entertainment. Holiday Centres provide:

• a wide range of onsite sports, leisure and recreational facilities
• supervision and security of a very high level
• a choice of eating outlets
• touring facilities of equal importance to statics
• a maximum density of 30 pitches per acre
• clubhouse with entertainment provided
• automatic laundry

Holiday Centres also receive a percentage score between 50% and 100% to differentiate quality levels within this grading. Like the Pennant rating, this percentage is reassessed annually.

Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme (VAQAS) Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme

As well as receiving an unbiased viewpoint of your visitor experience by industry professionals, the scheme can provide you with promotional opportunities and ongoing support throughout the year. Any attraction meeting VisitEngland’s definition of a visitor attraction can apply. As a participant, you will receive tailored advice and guidance from highly experienced assessors, who are recruited from the industry and have worked with operators at many different types of attractions across the country. No two attractions are assessed in exactly the same way; the scheme is designed to help you maximise the potential of your individual business.

In addition to a full assessment and written report, you will also have access to business support tools, national PR opportunities and the ability to use the VisitEngland Quality Rose Marque in all your advertising. Participating attractions are also eligible for one of VisitEngland’s accolades, such as the Gold accolade or Hidden Gem accolade, which can help to boost your business and gain an edge over your competitors.

To apply to join VAQAS, simply request an application pack by contacting 020 7578 1451, or email