New Tourism Grading Council Awards Committee a surprise packet!

The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa has announced the new members of its Awards Committee, and it contains a most strange collection of persons.

According to, the new Awards Committee has the following members (interestingly, no e-mail to announce the new Awards Committee has been sent to all the star-graded accommodation establishments):

Peter Bacon, Chairman of the Awards Committee, former CEO of Sun International, a recent addition to the Board of South African Tourism, and current Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited

Phillip Thompson, property developer and member of IDC,  “an architectural consulting group with a special focus on the hospitality industry and hospitality buildings”.  He served on the Board of S A Tourism from 1997 – 2000.

Smangele Nhlapo, owner of Deco File, “a 100% black female owned Interior design company specialising in interior architectural design, space planning, interior design, turnkey installations and decor”

Alan Romburgh is the outgoing Chairman of the Tourism Grading Council, and owned Relais Hotel South African, a company with multiple hotel properties.

Jegie Padmanathan is “Group Hotel Operations and Development Executive at Peermont, and previous Hotel and Resort Operations Manager at Emperor’s Palace”

Tony Hazel, Senior Manager (business) of the RCI Group.   He has previously been Operations Manager at Mabula Private Game Reserve and at the Magalies Country Club.   He was at the Southern Sun Group for 11 years, in various Food & Beverage positions.

Mzi Gcanga, principal architect at gmg Design Building Architecture, and a director of Manteku Private Lodge

Ahmed Clothia, Managing Director of Galileo SA (a booking portal for flights, accommodation etc).  He has been a travel consultant for most of his career.

Julian Smith, owner of Julian Decor, a fashion and decor designer.

Of this collection of committee members, only Romburgh, and to a lesser extent Bacon, Hazel and Padmanathan, will have a hands-on feel for the accommodation industry, and its quality challenges.   What is glaringly deficient is any representation of the small accommodation industry, making up by far the bulk of the graded properties of the Tourism Grading Council.   One wonders what the architects, a travel consultant, and a fashion and interior designers are doing on the Awards Committee, having no experience of the standards set for the hospitality industry, or for the requirements of international tourists in particular.

The Awards Committee evaluates and approves recommendations from the Tourism Grading Council assessors as to the renewal of an existing establishment’s star grading, or its increase or decrease in stars, and the recommendation of a star grading awarded to new accommodation establishments.

Bacon is quoted as saying that he and his Committee wish to increase the number of graded establishments, and to focus on the integrity of the grading system.  “Quality Assurance is a pillar of S A Tourism’s overall strategy to attract more foreign visitors to the country and our intention is to align our system with international best practice” he said.

The Tourism Grading Council’s Thembi Kuneni says of the Committee: “The Awards Committee comprises a collective of individuals who possess profound knowledge about the industry and this knowledge will, no doubt, impact positively on the business of the Tourism Grading Council over the Committee’s three-year tenure.  On behalf of my team at the Grading Council, I extend heartfelt congratulations on their appointment and we look forward to working with them”. 

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:

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