THE Balearic government yesterday approved a set of categories which will govern the tourist accommodation ratings of hotels and apartments in the region, Tourism Minister and Government spokesperson Joana Barcelo said yesterday.

The move is a pioneering one in Spain which allows proprietors to choose the category under which they want to operate. Once decided, owners will be given a period of time to adjust to the new regulations.

Speaking after a government meeting yesterday, Barcelo said that the system is based on tourist accommodation businesses assessing their own worth. If they wish to upgrade their category, she said, then extra services will have to be provided. “Proprietors will need to be responsible about what they can offer the public and how their facilities fit in with the legal categorisations that the government has now set,” she warned. The new system has been introduced because state law governing accommodation classification was eliminated after it proved to be at odds with European Union legislation.

Essentially grades of one, through to five-star premises will be maintained. Categories 3 and 4 can be classed as “superior” whilst 5 will refer to luxury accommodation. Tourist apartments will be listed from 1 to 4 stars, again with 3 and 4 having the option of a “superior” category.

The emphasis of the new legislation, explained Barcelo, is that the ratings will be defined by the services that the hotel or apartments can provide, rather than its architectural merit.

Barcelo said that opting for services is the new hallmark of quality and will enable the Balearics to be more competitive in tourism.