By PRUDENCE MINI
Finding comfort in a stranger’s house might seem like a difficult concept to grasp, but research has shown that homestay accommodations are a growing trend in South Africa as tourists seek more genuine, enriching and memorable travel experiences says South Africa Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona.
Ntshona was speaking at the most recent launch of the Basic Quality Verification programme that took place in Makhanda where members of Kwam e-Makana Project were in attendance and some of the homestay establishments received certificates of compliance for their participation in the Programme.
He said the tourism category of homestays is picking up substantially. “What we have picked up from research and everything else is that there is a big big need globally for authentic experiences in South Africa where one can get to immerse themselves in the culture, in the people and everything else.”
Ntshona said the Basic Quality Verification programme is about encouraging small business that don’t necessarily meet the formal criteria of full grading to actually be part of Tourism. “We don’t want to take the authenticity away from the homestays,” he said.
Rather, the Programme provided a framework to assist people who welcome travellers or tourists into their own homes. He said it was just putting the basics in place to make sure that the overall experience of both the travellers and host is enhanced.
Ntshona also said that most people don’t realise they are in tourism until it stops. From banks to petrol stations, they all are part of tourism and rely on the industry.
“Tourism is for all… so we need to work together to get it bigger and better!”
He added South Africa has a vibrant culture engrained in its people – food, singing, dancing – “and so much more”. The country has unique experiences on offer that can be tapped into to attract both domestic and international markets.
Kwam eMakana Project Chairperson Buyiswa Gora said it started with 55 homes in 2004. It was the brainchild of former Premier of the Eastern Cape Nosimo Balindlela. During 2004, Balindlela initiated the “800 room project” as an attempt on her part, to increase the tourism spend in disadvantaged areas by having Eastern Cape Government employees stay in designated houses when they travelled for business purposes. The Makana area was to be the test area and it was envisaged that the Project would eventually spread to all parts of the Province.
At the Basic Quality Verification programme launch, five homestay owners who completed the Basic Quality Verification assessment received certificates of compliance. The other homestay establishments are currently concluding assessments and the handover of certificates of compliance will follow upon assessment completion, said Gora.
To book a Homestay experience contact 072 448 0520 or email email@example.com
- Prudence Mini is the Marketing and Communications Officer for Makana Tourism.