Deputy Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa has launched the National Tourism Service Excellence Requirements (SANS 1197) in Johannesburg. The requirements are aimed at improving and maintaining service levels at all service touch points in the tourism value chain. They are also aimed at guiding the sector to achieve the National Tourism Sector Strategy's objective of positioning South Africa as one of the top 20 global tourism destinations.
Previously the tourism value chain in South Africa did not have integrated standards and norms and this contributed to inconsistencies in service levels. Research conducted in 2009 identified inconsistent service levels and a lack of culture of complaining of poor service as critical challenges in the sector. The Service Excellence Requirements will provide a yardstick that will be used by all tourism service providers in the value chain to deliver quality service and experience that equals or surpass world standards.
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa. (Image: GCIS)
Deputy Minister Xasa said the requirements will be the first of its kind in the country as per research that was done by SABS." They have the potential of being adopted by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) into becoming an international standard."
The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) developed the standards on behalf of the tourism sector and benchmarked them against international requirements. Dr. Boni Mehlomakulu, CEO of SABS said, "The South African tourism industry is currently growing three times faster than the global average, and if we are to maintain this growth rate there must be a collective effort to ensure that all tourism establishments maintain the highest standards to guarantee guest satisfaction, from the initial contact of booking until when tourists land in our country."
Service delivery in the tourism sector is regulated in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, 2008 (Act No 68 of 2008), which places emphasis on the establishment of national norms and standards that relate to the protection of consumers by providing for improved standards of consumer information in order to prohibit unfair marketing and business practices. The standard is but one of the intervention tools of the National Tourism Service Excellence Strategy whose long-term goal is to provide the tourism sector with an opportunity to transform South Africa into a globally competitive service economy and compliance with the Consumer Protection Act.
The requirements are comprised of four key focus areas namely:
Marketing - provides guidelines for organisations on the importance of providing constant information to customers and ensuring that the information provided is a true indication of what customers can expect from your establishment;
Products - provides guidelines on the state of tourism products, the TGCSA grading criteria has been taken into consideration in developing this section;
Delivery of Service - provides guidelines on provision of excellent service;
Monitoring and Evaluation - provides guidelines on the importance of conducting research and gaining more information about your customers as to gain a competitive advantage;
Deputy Minister Xasa also introduced a National Service Excellence campaign under the theme "Excellent Service Starts with Me". The campaign is aimed at creating awareness and educating consumers and tourism product owners about the requirements. It will be rolled out in the nine provinces as from July 2012.
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