Media statement by the office of Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism

South Africa’s star quality now a leading global light

The Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, today unveiled the new star Grading Plaque together with the Universal Accessibility (UA) Plaque for accommodation and MESE (meetings, exhibitions and special events) establishments. The unveiling took place in Port Elizabeth at the King Edward Hotel and Forest Hall Guest House.

“As a tourism industry we are very pleased with this milestone reached by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA). It is an important step in the establishment of an internationally competitive and credible grading system in South Africa,” Minister van Schalkwyk said. The TGCSA is the official quality assurance body for accommodation establishments in South Africa.

“The process to revise the grading system, which was started in 2008, has been extremely thorough and has resulted in world class standards that we as South Africans can be extremely proud of. The process entailed not only a review of our grading criteria and minimum requirements but also an overhaul of the entire operating system of the TGCSA in order to ensure a seamless process of managing quality assurance for tourism products. The role of the TGCSA in ensuring that we deliver on our promise of a quality experience to tourists visiting our country is critical,” the Minister said.

In 2010, South Africa saw more than 8 million tourist arrivals (8 073 552) to the country compared to just over 7 million (7 011 865) in 2009, which represents growth of more than 15%. The TGCSA plays an important role in the quality assurance of accommodation products where these tourists stay and in their experience of South Africa and its diversity.

“Our Grading Plaques are a symbol of the assurance we provide to tourists, both local and international, that they can rely on star graded establishments when making their choice of accommodation or conferencing establishment” Minister van Schalkwyk said.

“A significant amount of time and energy was spent during this process in fine-tuning the criteria to get them right for the industry. The aim was to not only ensure that South Africa can maintain its international competitiveness as a tourist destination, but indeed to show that we can be world leaders in terms of quality assurance.