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Cover Story – November 2014

This edition of Tourism Tattler is dedicated to the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA).

The TGCSA was established in the year 2000, and operates as a business unit of South African Tourism. Over the past 14 years, the TGCSA has created a globally recognised and credible quality assurance body for tourism products throughout South Africa.

Of the nine main types of establishments that travellers can choose from – namely Hotels, Lodges, Bed & Breakfasts, Country Houses, Guest Houses, Self Catering Units, Caravan & Camping Parks, Backpackers & Hostelling facilities as well as Meetings, Exhibitions and Special Events (MESE) venues – those establishments that have been graded by one of TGCSA’s Accredited Grading Assessors are entitled to clearly display the Star Graded insignia.

Simply put, if a hospitality establishment bears a TGCSA star plaque and certificate, tourists can expect outstanding quality and service excellence, appropriate to the star level displayed.

The quickest way to tell if an establishment is TGCSA approved or not, is to visit www.tourismgrading.co.za, click on the ‘Search Graded Establishments’ tab and enter the full name of the establishment. If it’s not listed – it’s not (yet) a TGCSA approved establishment.

As the TGCSA’s Chief Quality Assurance Officer, Thembi Kunene says: “We are driven by our mission, which is ‘To establish a recognisable and credible globally benchmarked system of quality assurance for accommodation and MESE (Meetings, Exhibitions and Special Events) experiences’, which can be fully relied upon by visitors when choosing an establishment.’ As much as the TGCSA promotes Star Grading, it would truly benefit South Africa as a nation if everyone in the Travel and Tourism industry followed suit. In doing so, the highest level of quality assurance, the best possible value for money and an important focus on customer expectation will be enjoyed by all.”

The online grading application process has been operational since October 2010, and approves applications daily. The number of graded establishments is currently just on 6,000.

Aimed at increasing the number of members, a new initiative aptly termed the ’Basket of Benefits’ or ‘BoB’ has been launched via a dedicated website, which is loaded with incredibly useful tools and information at www.basketofbenefits.co.za. BoB provides graded establishments with a wide range of pre-negotiated supplier discount deals, new business lead generation, business and legal advice, employee recruitment, and your very own personal assistant, to name but a few of the benefits. Read more on page 08.

The second Lilizela Tourism Awards concluded on 09 October 2014, with all of the provincial and national winners announced at a glittering ‘Oscar’ style ceremony event held at the Lyric Theatre in Gold Reef City, Gauteng.

An initiative of the National Department of Tourism and delivered by the TGCSA, the Lilizela Tourism Awards are a coveted symbol of recognition for having attained the highest standards of service excellence, and awarded not just by travel industry peers and judges, but more importantly by the winner’s own customers and guests. The importance of consumer reviews is highlighted by the phenomenal 854% growth in the number of votes received for 2014 nominees when compared to 2013. Read more on pages 16 to 26.

Entries for the 2015 Lilizela Tourism Awards are now open!

Yours in Tourism,

Des Langkilde. editor@tourismtattler.com