FCE: Listening, part 4You'll hear an interview with Colin Browne, a representative of the Youth Hostel Association or YHA. For questions 1-7, choose the best answer, A, B or C.
You can listen to the recording twice.
You now have one minute in which to look at the questions. Then start the recording.
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INTERVIEWER: The Youth Hostel Association started in the 1930s and since then the organisation has continued to provide low-cost accommodation for millions of people travelling around. I asked Colin Browne, a representative of the YHA for an update on the hostel situation ... (change of acoustic) Colin, first of all, is it true that the hostels aren't as good as they used to be?
COLIN: Well, if you're asking me about quality, I'd say - and most would agree with me - that the opposite is the case. The original hostels were pretty tough places to stay in ... no hot water ... hard floors and beds.
INTERVIEWER: (Mmmmm laughs) But people argue that hostel travellers don't want fluffy carpets and matching curtains and that this goes against the original aims of the organisation.
COLIN: Well, all I can say is that these criticisms have no basis in fact.We know what we're doing ... we do market research, we talk to a random selection of people who regularly stay in hostels ... and the results show that that we're getting it right.
INTERVIEWER: But if you look back to the 30s and 40s ... when the organisation started, the general philosophy was very different, wasn't it?
COLIN: I think the important thing to remember is that we aren't in the 1940s any more.Teenagers don't travel around on their own as much as they did then because parents no longer consider it safe. Our hostels are still full but things have changed ... visitors now are often young families with children, couples on restricted budgets ... people who care about the environment and are pretty ?green' ...
INTERVIEWER: How has this affected hostel rules and regulations?
COLIN: Well, we have to market the YHA to be competitive in the 21st century. Rules have become more flexible to accommodate the different types of hostel and their visitors. Sometimes there is no rule about what time you have to be back at night, for example, but not in all hostels, and we still have large open-plan dormitories which not everyone wants ...
INTERVIEWER: So you?ve switched really from just offering basic, self-service style accommodation to being more of a service organisation ? like a hotel?
COLIN: Yes, and it's a reflection of what people want.You should see my postbag! For every member who writes to say, ?It's not like it used to be', we get a pile of letters saying ?This is great!' If we'd stuck to the old ways, there wouldn't be a YHA. There'd be a few hostels with a small membership of ageing hostellers, with no newcomers and no future.
INTERVIEWER: Colin, can we talk a little about rural hostels ... I know you've had to close some of these. How do you decide when to close a hostel?
COLIN: There are any number of reasons for closing a hostel - leases run out, buildings become uneconomic, visiting patterns change. The general policy is to consider closing hostels which are significantly below standard, particularly in terms of safety, where the remedial work required would be very expensive ...
INTERVIEWER:It seems odd to be closing them down when I know a lot of companies in this type of business are doing just the opposite.
COLIN: Mmmm it's true. I do get lots of enquiries - more every year - from people who want to set up a hostel or a chain of hostels. And I suppose I do wonder sometimes if we might end up with more hostels than the market can cope with. Take the island of Skye in Scotland, for example, ten years ago, there were 20 hostels there, now there are over 500 ... (fade)