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SSouth African accommodation establishments are geared up to receive guests in a safe and responsible manner, in line with the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
A health and safety protocols study conducted by the South African Tourism (SA Tourism) Insights and Analytics team and the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) has shown that 95% of graded establishment were confident with their level of implementation of the COVID-19 Protocols.
This study was done in line with the TGCSA’s objective to continuously ensure the highest levels of service excellence and placing the consumer at the centre of their world.
Conducted toward the end of 2020, the study surveyed CEOs, owners and senior management of 456 graded establishments across all nine provinces, and aimed to benchmark the implementation of health and safety protocols from the point of view of establishments.
Of the establishments surveyed, 95% indicated to have high confidence levels, 75% of them said they had very high levels of confidence in their implementation of the COVID-19 protocols.
Guesthouses formed 43% of the establishments surveyed, bed and breakfasts accounted for 29%, with Cape Town forming the largest sample of 40% followed by the Eastern Cape at 13%.
The majority of the establishments heeded the call for training and have indicated that training had been provided for employees on the compliance of health and safety protocols. The vast majority, accounting for 98% said training was provided on hand sanitizing, 97% had provided training on the wearing of masks both to staff and customers, 97% had also trained their staff on handwashing protocols as well as social distancing. Training is the biggest driver to increase the confidence levels for the accommodation sector.
Challenges faced by accommodation establishments
Although the establishments proved to be coping overall with ensuring the safety of staff and customers, they still need support with updated information on the changes within the hospitality industry, with one establishment saying they need “regular updates of exactly what changes are being introduced in the hospitality industry as levels change, updates are too vague”. Other support needs include marketing and visible signage of the protocols around the establishments as well as sponsorships with personal protective equipment.
Accommodation establishments sighted behavioural changes by both staff as well as some guests as one of their most significant challenges. The costs involved in procuring the necessary protective measures such as sanitizer and masks, information on the virus as well as reigniting demand for travel within the tourism sector also proved to be challenging.
“Convincing staff (and sometimes clients) that a permanent and stringent adherence to the protocols are necessary”, an establishment was quoted on challenges with behavioral adjustments.
Another establishment expressed concern with the cost involved with ensuring compliance to the protocols, “provision of a face mask to staff every day, and to have extras for customers” proved to be a costly expense.
Establishments indicated that they are aware of the various protocols and standards available to them, with 76% saying they are aware of Tourism Industry Protocols Pledge. However, it is concerning to note that only 31% of establishments have been certified for COVID-19 protocols and 40% were unsure whether or not they had been certified.
Compliance to protocols encouragement for the sector and consumers
South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sisa Ntshona said it was very encouraging to learn that accommodation establishments are highly confident in their ability to keep their customers and their staff safe whilst enjoying tourism in the COVID-19 environment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made trust a crucial currency, which is why I am very encouraged by the accommodation establishments and how seriously they take the implementation of the health and safety protocols,” says Ntshona.
Ntshona continued to say that the high levels of implementation of the protocols and the confidence of the establishments, would invoke trust in the consumer and encourage them to use the establishments.
“As SA Tourism and the TGCSA, we will continue advocating for safe travel and safe practices within the tourism sector. This is why we are committed to ensuring that all stakeholders within the tourism value chain adhere to the protocols and to supporting them, where they may come across some challenges,” he concluded.
TGCSA initiatives in support of establishments
In support of the graded accommodation establishments in their efforts, SA Tourism and the TGCSA have put in place the following measures:
- Providing the graded establishments with updated information on the implementation of the health and safety protocols
- The South African Tourism Tracking and Trace App, to assist with contact tracing
- Sharing information with graded establishments on discounted PPE information and links to online information to aid in their communication efforts
- Competitions to engage and encourage establishments to demonstrate how they have implemented the COVID-19 protocols.
South African Tourism and the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa will continue to put in place measures to support the industry in implementing measures to safely operate in the COVID-19 environment.
To get in touch with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, or to get your establishment graded, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org