Is A Broader Tourism Grading Scheme On The Cards?
The proposed National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) states that additional standards need to be developed to cover tourism activities, attractions and services.
But stakeholders in the industry feel that grading should continue to focus on accommodation, at least until all accommodation establishments have been graded.
Clifford Ross, CEO of City Lodge says only once it's been properly assessed that the criteria are working well and the majority of accommodation establishments are satisfied with the process, should the broadening of the scheme be considered.
Christiane von Ulmenstein, Owner of Whale Cottage Guest House Portfolio, notes that the TGCSA tried to introduce grading for restaurants in the past. "This failed miserably as restaurant owners believe they know their standards and don't appreciate being dictated to."
The strategy also noted that currently there are several significant operational issues relating to the implementation of the TGCSA's scheme, such as inconsistencies in the application of grading criteria and the issue of assessors being chosen by the establishment being graded.
With new grading system to be enforced following the approval of the final draft, the industry is upbeat that many of the issues mentioned in the strategy will be eliminated. Ross explains, "The TGCSA has done much research around the world and will be implementing a system that will address the issues of concern such as the inconsistencies in the criteria and that of the assessors. The process has been one of industry consultation and the industry knows that most of its concerns around criteria and the assessors have been considered and addressed by the board in the new grading process."
The issue of the grading of establishments on the basis of universal accessibility has also been raised in the strategy, stating that the issue is often misunderstood and only very few establishments have been accredited. Actions suggested in the strategy include the introduction of incentives for businesses converting their facilities to become universally accessible as well as the investigation of introducing a legal requirement for a greater degree of universal accessibility in new projects.
But many in the industry feel that the enforcement of legal requirements should be considered carefully. Ross says: "Legal requirements on any issue affecting the industry, without a proper consultation process with industry players, is going to be met with resistance and will cause more harm than good. The industry likes to be consulted to get an understanding of the where, what, why of the requirement, before they will buy into any further legal requirements being imposed on the industry."
Von Ulmenstein agrees, and says she believes in legislating as little as possible. "I think the smart marketers will offer this facility if they have the space for it. It is not feasible for most small accommodation establishments - they struggle to make a reasonable number of rooms available to guests out of their existing space and this would place a burden on potential income." She suggests that establishments that offer this service should be acknowledged via the TGCSA special plaque rather than legislation.