Call for more backpacker and hostelling establishments to become star-graded
Grading ensures reliability, uniformity and predictability in terms of standards, services and facilities, and thereby meets traveller expectations. – Thembi Kunene, TGCSA chief quality assurance officer
Backpacker and hostelling establishments have become popular accommodation choices among local and international visitors in South Africa in recent years. Not only are they easy on the pocket, but they also provide fun, authentic experiences for those who want to explore the destination on a limited budget.
The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) would like to see more backpacker and hostelling establishments in South Africa becoming star-graded. Says Thembi Kunene, TGCSA chief quality assurance officer: 'Our marketing insights tell us that if travellers have more time to spare than money to spend and are looking for a comfortable and reputable place to stay, then backpacker establishments and hostels are options they will explore. But they need to be convinced that these adhere to certain conditions.'
According to the TGCSA, the only officially recognised quality assurance body for tourism products in South Africa, there are currently 82 graded backpacker and hostelling accommodation establishments in South Africa – 39 in the Western Cape, 15 in the Eastern Cape, nine in KwaZulu-Natal, eight in Gauteng, four in Mpumalanga, three in the Free State, two in the North West province, and one each in the Northern Cape and Limpopo.
'Grading ensures reliability, uniformity and predictability in terms of standards, services and facilities, and thereby meets traveller expectations. Should one traveller have a bad experience with an ungraded backpacking establishment or hostel, it has the potential to taint the entire sector,' says Kunene.
There are also numerous benefits for graded establishments – they have a greater chance of being in the top results in a Google search and have the benefit of being promoted as part of South African Tourism's significant global marketing investment. Graded establishments also get a globally recognised plaque that is a mark of quality.
'Visitors to our country need to know that backpacking and hostelling establishments, although affordable, still maintain the highest levels of quality and service excellence,' says Kunene.
For more information on how to get your backpacker and hostelling establishment star-graded, contact the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa: +27 (0)11 895 3000; firstname.lastname@example.org.