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Star Service: Resort star grading in South Africa


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, or email

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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