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Star Service: Resort star grading in South Africa

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Since being introduced in 2002, the Tourism Grading Council’s criteria have become more and more stringent, ensuring that accommodation around the country meets certain basic standards.

Although a star grading for non-camping accommodation at resorts is quite common, did you know that a caravan park could receive a star grading for their camping facilities?

To qualify for a star from the Tourism Grading Council is not easy, and resorts that apply have to be properly examined and graded.

For any resort even to be considered for a star, it has to meet a few basic criteria. These are that the owner or manager is contactable 24/7; that there is an appropriate reception area and no policy of discrimination; that the staff must be presentable, the service prompt, and the pricing transparent; that there is clear communication of all services provided, that there are separate facilities available for overnighters and day visitors… and more.

Once a park has met these, it is eligible for one or more stars, which are based on the 17 general categories that earn points for a resort.  These categories are further divided into many more sub-categories, with the total points adding up to 1 000. The final score determines the star-grading of the resort.

The majority of graded sites around the country are two- and three-star facilities; establishments which are more luxurious are likely to involve glamping or luxury-lodge facilities.

The categories for points are as follows:

  • Exterior and Grounds: 85
  • Bathrooms and Ablutions: 150
  • Housekeeping for Bathrooms and Ablutions: 15
  • Sculleries / Camp Kitchens: 75
  • Housekeeping for Sculleries / Camp Kitchens: 15
  • Laundries / Drying Areas: 75
  • Housekeeping for Laundries / Drying Areas: 15
  • Sites for Caravan and Camping: 120
  • Public Areas (Reception and Halls): 90
  • Housekeeping for Public Areas: 15
  • Communal Braai Areas and Bomas: 60
  • Housekeeping for Communal Braai Areas and Bomas: 15
  • Recreational Facilities and Swimming Pool: 90
  • Shop, Bar, Bottle Store: 15
  • Housekeeping for Shop, Bar, Bottle Store: 15
  • General Services and Service: 60
  • Go Green Initiative: 30

More Info

This is just a basic summary of what it takes a resort to earn its stars from the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.

For a full breakdown of the grading criteria, visit www.tourismgrading.co.za, or email micky@caravansa.co.za.

From the number of points awarded to the aspects of a resort, it is clear that the campsites and ablution facilities are two of the most important. However, other facilities like sculleries, laundries, public areas and recreational facilities can make (or break) a resort’s claim to stardom. The cleanliness of a resort also impacts on its rating, as does general service.

The Go Green Initiative is also a potential game-changer, requiring resorts to undertake tree planting, grey-water use, responsible waste management,  and electricity saving. Universal Accessibility is also important, as it ensures that resorts do not indirectly discriminate against differently-abled visitors.

Although points are generally earned for good features, they can also be deducted for major or minor maintenance issues.

All in all, it’s a tough job running a resort that keeps the Tourism Grading Council happy; so, the next time you visit a graded resort, consider just how much effort went into each one of those tiny stars!
By Micky Baker

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