14 December 2009
Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk last week announced the launch of www.rooms4u.travel, a new South African accommodation booking portal that will provide the industry with a way to market themselves, and local and international travellers with an easy-to-use point of service.
The portal is a joint initiative of the Department of Tourism, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa and the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa).
Extensive accommodation database
An extensive database created as a result of a recent accommodation audit conducted by the department will form the basis for the portal. All establishments on the database will be pre-registered on the booking portal, and Fedhasa will also be undertaking a process to verify information and ask establishments to add information in the course of December and January.
Any establishment in the country that is not on the database and wishes to be can register with Fedhasa.
Some of the benefits of the portal for the tourism industry will include that all players will be able to make use of automatic real time bookings, that all payments on the portal will be secure and guaranteed and that any establishment, regardless of size, can feature on the system.
“I would like to call on all accommodation establishments in the country to verify their details by the end of January 2010 and to use the facility to assist them with the sale of all available rooms,” Van Schalkwyk told the media in Cape Town last week.
“This database and booking portal creates a legacy that puts South Africa in a better position to maximise future tourism revenues and growth and is to the advantage of all of us.”
Establishments will be able to register and check their details or make enquiries in December and January. The portal will be ready to facilitate bookings by early 2010 and it will also allow establishments to sell their last minute stock.
National tourism contact centre
Finally, Van Schalkwyk also launched the first ever National Tourism Contact Centre for South Africa, a single point of call for all tourism-related information. The number for the call centre is +27 87 803 INFO (4636).
The contact centre consists of a comprehensive website and a call centre which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will serve customers in seven international languages, including English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch and Portuguese.
“These are products which will make it much easier for visitors to plan their trip to South Africa,” he said. “I would like to urge all role players in the industry to help us market the website and call centre number as services to our visitors.”
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