Tourism is opening up in the North West Province’s villages, townships and ‘dorpies’!

The Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) in partnership with the North West Department of Tourism (NWDT) has embarked on a programme to grade previously ‘hidden’ establishments in villages, townships and small ‘dorpies’ (VTSDs). The programme aims to educate these establishments on the value of grading and to ensure they adhere to the standard and quality that consumers have come to expect from TGCSA’s star grading system. The partnership ran from June 2016 to March 2017 and saw a total increased in the number of graded establishments of 60.5% from 173 to 286.

One of the recipients of this programme is 62 year old Galetsang. Born and raised in Taung, Galetsang spent most of her working years in Soweto, Johannesburg running her own catering business. In 2008 Galetsang heeded the call to return to Taung when Chief Motlhabane asked Taung subjects to come home and contribute in the development of the village. On many visits home, Galetsang had noticed that many trucks headed north of the province park by the village roadside overnight. She asked Chief Chief Motlhabane for a piece of land and began building her lodge 1 room at a time. It was an ambitious project on a field with no running water. Today Gali Lodge is a 12 room establishment that provides bed and breakfast to truck drivers heading north to deliver supplies and locals traveling home for weddings and funerals.

“I didn’t really know about grading until I started attending tourism meetings here in the province. But, it was simply too expensive for me. It was a dream come-true when I received a message from NWDT that I qualify for assistance & funding,” Galetsang explains.

The NWDT provided TGCSA with a database of SMME establishments not yet graded in the province. These SMME’s were to undergo assessment as per quality assurance criteria & standard of the TGCSA and at TGCSA’s sole discretion in accordance with the minimum requirements and grading criteria. In other words, no special treatment was considered.

“TGCSA sent an assessor to my establishment. I was impressed by Mr. Mhlongo’s humility, taking his time to take me step by step explaining the grading system. He really took time to help my manager and I understand the value of grading and gave us advice even about accommodating people with disabilities. I didn’t think I will get even 1 star but Gali Lodge is now a 2 star establishment!” exclaimed Galetsang excitedly. “Now fishermen who participate in the annual fishing tournaments at Barberspan know they can come park their 4x4’s and boats in my yard and set up camping tents. I was aware that by grading I will get bookings from Rustenburg government officials but, I was surprised to also get bookings from private companies as well!”

The TGCSA and NWDT opportunity offered a 100% waiver for TGCSA assessment and membership fees to SMME’s like Gali Lodge. The grading opportunity would give them access to markets they previously were excluded from as well as the assistance needed to maintain the standard of their products and services.

CQAO of the TGCSA, Darryl Erasmus expressed great pride for this milestone, “Product development is a long term goal of TGCSA and that of South African Tourism. We are proud to unearthing smaller tourism products that previously had little to no access to consumer markets. Through the facilitation of TGCSA, SA Tourism is supporting tourism SMMEs with grading and giving them access to these markets.”

The partnership between TGCSA and the NWDT is now in its 2nd year. Following the successful completion of the 2016/17 grading project the two organisations have once again signed another Service Level Agreement.  As TGCSA we continue to strive for opportunities to get all SMMEs graded. By grading these hidden gems, we ensure that as demand is driven by SAT marketing efforts there is a wide variety of product available for visitors.