Message from the Chief Quality Assurance Officer’s desk

Happy 2017 from the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) team!

Looking back, I’m pleased to report that 2016 was fantastic year for the business. We increased our membership numbers every single month of the current fiscal year and have welcomed many new graded establishments to the fold. Our coastal campaign was launched in September as establishments readied themselves for the rush of summer holidaymakers, and we are so delighted that an additional 127 new graded establishments joined the system as a result to date!

A big thank you to our dedicated assessors who continue to work hard to grow and maintain the quality of graded establishments. We are convinced that the Assessors’ Conference held at the end of 2016 delivered valuable information that will assist our assessors in supporting our graded establishments going forward.

Another highlight of last year was the official launch of the Tourism Analytics Programme (TAP), an online system that collates guest reviews on travel review platforms. Furthermore, I was given the great opportunity to do some reality TV work when we partnered with VIA TV (Channel 147 on DStv) and Idees magazine to produce the ‘n Ster vir my Bed lifestyle show. The series showcased how to transform an ordinary guesthouse, bed-and-breakfast or self-catering unit into a quality-assured graded establishment.  The response from viewers has been phenomenal and the series is currently being rebroadcast.

So, what can you look forward to in the New Year from the TGCSA? We understand that the tax season is often stressful for our members and that establishment owners have their finances and business growth top of mind. The TGCSA will be running a tax season campaign to remind member establishments that the grading council is a trusted partner and offers a Basket of Benefits, including financial services, to assist you during the tax season.

The team is in the final stages of finalising our triennial Grading Criteria Review. This involves the review of the grading criteria and minimum requirements and has been conducted with the assistance of Grant Thornton auditors. Once completed, we and South African Tourism will embark on a nationwide roadshow to share the outcome and to obtain further input from the industry in time for the new fiscal year, effective from 1 April 2017. 

The roadshow will not only give the industry an opportunity to discuss the revised grading criteria and minimum requirements – it will also provide a platform for the TGCSA to share further developments, including:

  • The Business Support Service mechanism part of the Basket of Benefits;
  • Training initiatives, including the negotiation of an agreement with an international online training provider that will help smaller businesses to provide basic hospitality training for their staff;
  • Quality protection, including the education needed to eliminate the illegal use of stars, in partnership with the provincial consumer protection authorities; and
  • Updates on the upcoming Meetings Africa and INDABA trade shows, and details of how graded establishment owners can benefit from attending.

During the December/January break, the Western Cape suffered some devastating fires and we are saddened that a number of our members were affected. The TGCSA would like to offer sincere sympathies to those affected as well as any assistance they may need to help them rebuild and recover from these terrible events.

And finally, effective from January 2017, the TGCSA is introducing a new plaque to the industry. Because of the metal component in the existing plaques, they are often stolen and also weather badly. So, after listening to your feedback and comments in this regard, we are changing the plaque’s look and feel. The new plaque is made out of high-quality perspex, which is durable and adapts very well to the various architectural designs of graded establishments. It will be provided free of charge to members.

Furthermore, in line with our efforts to encourage responsible and eco-friendly tourism practices, we will no longer be printing the grading certificates as this was a duplication of the emailed versions.

As always, we will continue to communicate any new happenings and campaigns as the year progresses. We wish each of our members and partners a successful year!

Thank you for all your support and continued patronage, and let’s keep working together to uphold the high standards of South Africa’s tourism industry.

All the best!