Updated: Mar 4, 2019
For those of you planning a golf trip, either locally or regionally, during 2019 we have some tips which should help you to get the best out of your vacation.
Natalia Rosa the PR for ASATA (Association of Southern African Travel Agents at
www.asata.co.za), which body was established in 1956, commented to me during a recent telephone interview that;
“The SA Government does not have any mandatory requirement for the industry’s outbound travel practitioners to be members of industry bodies and or associations, nor any bonding, licensing or specific competency requirements for outbound tour operators and travel agents working in SA”.
The Government continually stresses the vital importance of local and regional tourism in the revenue mix for the country’s economy.
This makes sense as money either Coming into SA through international tourism, staying ‘in’ the region through more SA residents and nationals spending Rands here in SA instead of converting their Rands into foreign currencies to be spent outside the country, strengthens the tourism sector’s contribution to the economy.
The controls within the industry however seem to be strangely disconnected from the official statements and the actual reality.
I say this because one would like to think that the key component in the travel industry is ‘the customer’.
If this is the case then one would hope that this would be the first element considered in any official legislation, or initiatives around tourism and that the well-being of travelers’ interests would be of paramount importance.
Most people feel that we are over regulated, but the right mix of interventions by government here would help to ensure that this vital sector’s professionalism is protected and that the customer’s interests are safeguarded by helping to ensure that properly qualified agents and support personnel are working in the industry.
Natalia continued by pointing out that:
“the rigorous membership processes and continual checks required of our members, means that we are representing the best of breed in terms of travel professionals, while it also gives the traveler a resource through which to direct a complaint, should anything go wrong with an ASATA member’s levels of service”.
She then added that:
“Most of the complaints received by ASATA are as a result of travel arrangements made for trips and packages booked through non ASATA members”.
So – to be very objective, Government does have its hands full and so irrespective of whether it chooses to intervene in this sector or not, what does all of this really mean in terms of the traveler getting the best out of their trip?
For peace of mind the first step would obviously be that you book your trip and travel
arrangements through a travel professional who is an ASATA member.
This will offer no guarantees that everything will be perfect on your vacation, but at least you will have the peace of mind that your holiday has been arranged by a professional in the industry and that there will be a process of recourse should things happen to go wrong.
The second step would be that if you are planning to book a trip, whether locally, regionally or Internationally then look for a travel company, or hotel, resort or venue that has either ASATA or SATSA affiliation.
What is SATSA?
In brief this is the organisation which plays the same role as ASATA, albeit in terms of
safeguarding the best interest of inbound travelers.
Outside of acts of God such as natural disasters, industry strikes, flight delays, etc. etc. even a relatively straight forward trip is a highly complex process with many potential points of failure. The travel industry itself and even a relatively simple itinerary are made up of so many interconnected layers and elements, that the fact that most trips pass off without any major hitches is quite remarkable.
Over the years I have lived in 10 countries, flown with 37 airlines and during one overseas tour, involving lengthy stays in the Middle East, France and the UK, still managed to change countries 37 times in about 5 months, so I feel that it is fair to say have had some experience with travel. I have also run international events, developed an international travel agency and designed, set up and managed travel products as a tour operator.
These experiences have enabled me to see both sides of the ‘fence’, both an industry insider and as a travel customer.
From this dual base of experience and while the various tourism associations and bodies provide some safeguards they can provide only a safety net and the traveler should, in their own best interests, play an active role in making, understanding and finalising all of the travel elements for any trip or vacation.
My personal advice, once the basic elements are in place and outside of things like making sure that you have your passport, airline tickets, vital prescription medicines, etc. with you when you leave home, would be to check and then double check everything.
In most cases, outside of the inputs from the travel professional, which will involve the booking the main components of the trip, do everything else based on common sense.
If you are uncertain about something, then don’t leave it to chance, but rather call your travel agent, the airline or the hotel itself and or get on-line and check it out for yourself.
The common sense areas would start with the obvious fact that you know more about your own personal preferences, dislikes and expectations that anyone else.
So even if you are going into the ‘unknown’, you will need to share this information with your travel agent to give them a clear understanding of your expectations.
Another key aspect would be to look objectively at the destination and any offer or package linked to it.
If the offer itself, especially with on-line packages, looks too good to be true then sadly it
Many of us have been taught not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
With travel (and indeed most things in the on-line space) not only should you check the teeth, but you might be well advised to go to the other end and lift up the tail as well!
For the rest, the common sense approach will include attending to apparently mundane
aspects like having the car serviced, buying the travel insurance you can afford, making sure that you have allowed enough time for transfers between modes of transport, checking that the package you have chosen does include what you think that you are paying for, etc.
The latter is particularly important, especially in terms of the small print, because getting to the hotel only to discover that the ‘golf trip’ you have booked does not include the costs for the game of golf itself can be both irritating and costly.
A friend once went on a scuba diving trip where the package advertised that it included the basic diving equipment.
However closer and more detailed examination would have shown him that the small print (this is the detail and an area in which the Devil is still alive and extremely well!) excluded the costs of the boat to get him out to the diving spots!
GolfVistaSA is developing a comprehensive network of contacts on line to provide the golf traveler with information.
This will be not only about the course or courses that the golfer might want to play during his or her vacation, but information about the area as well.
This means that your passion for golf can be turned into a vacation for the whole family with the click of your mouse.
John Cockayne: Golf Editor – GolfVistaSA.
John Cockayne: Golf Editor – GolfVista SA, Estate Living Magazine & Destination Golf Travel Guide – Southern Africa & The Indian Ocean Islands.
Mobile: +27 73 8967931 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org