Why not have a Tourism Grading System for Towns

Camps Bay near Cape Town
With so much emphasis put on establishments providing accommodation in South Africa to obtain a Tourism Grading to attract clients I can't help but wonder whether a similar tourism grading system shouldn't also be applied to towns and cities. Looking around the various holiday destinations around South Africa this could only have a positive effect. It is all well and good for establishment owners to ensure they are meeting the grade in terms of visitor expectations but what about the towns. There should be a responsibility placed upon municipalities up and down the country to raise their game.

A Tourism Grading system for destinations would encourage those responsible to ensure they are continually improving the facilities and overall look and feel of the town for the holidaymaker. Presently too much reliability is left to the local Tourism Offices who have to fight for funding for basic functional needs with the municipalities. In addition these Tourist Offices have no say on what needs to be improved in their locality to encourage visitors to come back. There needs to be a far broader joined-up approach between the local
Tourism Offices and the Local Municipality. A Tourism Grading System for holiday destinations in South Africa could provide real guidance and emphasis on how and what a town could do to improve its tourist market experience.

The answer is not to put up a few signs and to have a website with some nice photos on it (although these are still needed) it is to look at your town or city through the eyes of your typical tourist. In these times of economic downturn the repeat visitor and word of mouth recommendation is key to ensuring the long term viability and success of a town as a tourist destination. A tourist on holiday at the moment expects good quality accommodation in an area with plenty of things to do or see. Good quality accommodation in a seemingly run-down or neglected area is not going to encourage visitors to return.  Places like Knysna in the Western Cape set good examples of what can be achieved.

Ideas for a Destination Tourism Grading System:

As a suggestion Towns and cities in South Africa could be graded on the following:

1. Quality and availability of amenities Eg Public Toilets, Parking, Open Areas
2. Quality of the roads
3. Quality and Safety of the beaches
4. Quality and Availability of Outdoor Activities
5. Quality and Availability of Indoor Activities
6. Quality of Shopping areas
7. Family Friendly Destination

These are just a few ideas and I am sure others will have more. 
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