Free tourism grad­ing for small busi­nesses

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Su­laiman Philip

the North West pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied tourism as one of the sec­tors that can boost eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in the province’s small towns.

to at­tract tourists to the over­looked but vi­brant and his­tory-rich small towns, the province has part­nered with the Tourism Grad­ing Coun­cil of South Africa (TGCSA) to grade small es­tab­lish­ments at no cost.

The pro­vin­cial Depart­ment of Tourism will cover the costs be­cause, as North West Tourism MEC Desbo Mo­hono ex­plained, “Grad­ing your bed and breakfast or guest­house might not seem im­por­tant, es­pe­cially if you own a small es­tab­lish­ment, but it's ac­tu­ally vi­tal for long-term suc­cess. Tourists and busi­ness trav­ellers alike are more likely to stay at a graded es­tab­lish­ment than in one with­out a grad­ing, as they can then be as­sured of pre­dictable and guar­an­teed lev­els of qual­ity.”

With this ini­tia­tive the province hopes to en­cour­age tourists to dis­cover Bokone Bophir­ima be­yond the Madikwe Game Re­serve and Sun City. The province is hop­ing to boost cul­tural tourism in ru­ral ar­eas where lo­cal bead­ers and pot­ters live and work.

The province re­cently con­cluded their Vil­lages, Town­ship and Small Dor­pies (VTSD) Economies and En­trepreneur­ship Outreach pro­gramme. Com­mu­ni­ties were in­tro­duced to new ser­vices avail­able from the province, in­clud­ing busi­ness sup­port pro­grammes. En­trepreneurs were given as­sis­tance and ad­vice on how to ac­cess fund­ing and in­vest­ment to cre­ate sus­tain­able tourism busi­nesses.

The num­ber of tourists vis­it­ing South Africa reached 10 mil­lion in 2016 and the na­tional Depart­ment of Tourism ex­pects it to keep in­creas­ing. A TGCSA grad­ing is not re­quired to run a tourist-re­lat­ed­busi­ness. But, as MEC Mo­hono points out, “A graded es­tab­lish­ment has ac­cess to a bas­ket of ben­e­fits through TGCSA. These ben­e­fits in­clude boost­ing cus­tomer con­fi­dence and also a mar­ket­ing as­pect which yields sus­tain­able busi­ness growth.”

Buis­nesses are graded on fac­tors like ameni­ties and fa­cil­i­ties avail­able, food, bev­er­ages and lo­ca­tion. The num­ber of stars awarded are based on the in- spec­tor’s re­port. The busi­ness can then dis­play the TGCSA plaque on their premi­sis.

The Vil­lages, Town­ship and Small Dor­pies Economies and En­trepreneur­ship Outreach pro­gramme looks at ways of mar­ket­ing tourist venues.

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