Are you practicing safe tourism? 

We need to talk about your insurance – not because I want to sell you any, but because boasting about it might help your sales.

Martin-Hatchuel-2012-WEBI’ve visited more than 100 web sites belonging to attractions and adventure companies in South Africa over the last three months, and noticed that very few of them made any information about their insurance available to their readers. I kept a record: it was less than 10%.

This seems strange. If you want people to do exciting things, wouldn’t it help your sales if you assured them that you’re doing everything to make sure that they’re safe, but that they’ll be properly covered in the (cabin crew voice) unlikely event of depressurisation?

In the accommodation sector, customers of BNB Sure display the BnB Sure Seal of Insurance with pride (see This Tourism Week, 28 September, 2011: BNB Sure Seal of Insurance: setting everyone’s minds at rest).

Go onto the company’s B&B Finder – which is a site aimed at consumers – and you’ll see: every single one of them tells you what cover they’re carrying.

OBJECTIONS
I spoke to two colleagues in tourism about this – and I’ll you what they said in the hope that you’ll have something to say, too, and that you’ll say it on line here.

Ashley Wentworth, of Canopy Tours South Africa, said that his own operation – Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours – is currently undergoing a process of ensuring that it’s fully compliant with all the latest requirements of the Consumer Protection Act.

“We agree – we should make at least the basic information about our insurance cover on our site,” he said.

“But the insurance companies seem to be uncomfortable with the idea in the growing culture of litigation – because it might be a kind of advert for people who might want to make money out of us by suing us.”

On the industry side, he said, “most credible tour operators require a comprehensive breakdown of your public liability cover before they’ll consider doing business with you.

“But – operator or consumer aside – the burning question is always, ‘how much is enough’?”

Henk van Wyk – the drop zone operator at Skydive Mossel Bay – said that some activities find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place because, on the one hand, the insurers won’t provide substantial cover, and on the other, the law now makes the old idea of indemnity forms obsolete.

“Operators cannot indemnify themselves for acting in a negligent manner, and the courts seem to ask ‘what would a reasonable instructor have done under the circumstances?’” he said.

“If the instructor acted responsibly, applied the safety doctrine in our manual of procedures rigorously, and prepared the student properly, and if the student still got hurt due to some unforeseen event or his or her own negligence, then there shouldn’t be a lot of grounds to sue on.

“This places a huge responsibility on us to always act in the most professional and safe way.”

It is, he said, “all in our attitude to safety, the competency of our instructors. and the training we provide to our students.”

So what do you think? Should every business share the extent of its insurance cover with potential guests? Would it help or hinder? And does sharing this kind of information expose you to potential litigation that you might otherwise have avoided?

Please go here to tell us what you think.

Accommodation providers: survey on universal access

The Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme (STPP) – an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) – is a non-profit company that helps communities and smaller South African accommodation establishments and hospitality businesses to incorporate sustainable tourism practices into their business methods.

The STPP is currently running an online Survey on Universal Accessibility “in order to gain a deeper understanding of the level to which universal accessibility has been adopted by the tourism and hospitality industry in South Africa.”

This is important research that’s designed to inform future universal access programmes across South Africa – so if you’re an accommodation provider, please help the STPP by completing its survey here.

Because it’s the right thing to do. And it’ll only take you 15 minutes, anyway.

How can This Tourism Week help you?

I’m Martin Hatchuel, a tourism practitioner with more than 30 years of experience in the sector, and I write and publish This Tourism Week as an informed, insightful look at issues affecting tourism in South Africa. (And I’ve been doing it since August, 2002.)

Backed by a team that includes web professionals (iBall Media), a graphic designer (Jo Hugo of Design,Etc.), PR consultants (interface by goji), and others, I’m here to help you develop all your communications tools: text (media releases, reports, business case studies, stories), strategies, web sites, apps, images, adverts, brochures, printing, events, and more.

Please contact me: 084 951 0574 or martinhatchuel@gmail.com

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Now go away on holiday – it’s in the economy’s best interests. And have a great tourism week!

Martin Hatchuel
Chartered Public Relations Professional

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