The Tongan Tourism Ministry recently launched the Tonga Mark, a comprehensive accommodation grading system to enhance the quality of Tonga’s hospitality sector. The system evaluates accommodation facilities, services, business practices, and sustainable initiatives to ensure an improved tourist experience.
The Tonga Mark sets out to raise the standards of accommodations across the country to offer visitors exceptional experiences while promoting sustainable practices within the hospitality industry. It also introduces a star rating system to categorize accommodations into four classifications: hotel, resort, apartment, and guest houses.
The development of Tonga Mark Standards commenced in 2011 through a collaborative effort between the Tourism Ministry and New Zealand Aid and Dr Semisi Taumoepeau from World Class Tourism conducted the essential Tonga Mark training for the Ministry’s staff, laying the foundation for this initiative.
Stakeholders involved in the Tonga Mark standards implementation and training were the Tongan Tourism Ministry, Health Ministry, Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications Ministry (MEIDECC) and the members of the Tourism Industry and the general public through consultations.
Through the Tonga Mark implementation, the Ministry’s Industry and Empowerment Division can track the quality and standards of various accommodations across Tonga. The program includes internal training for staff on the outer islands, annual inspections on the main island of Tongatapu, and the three main outer islands of Vava’u, Ha’apai, and ‘Eua. These assessments aim to ensure compliance with standards, including Covid-19 safety protocols.
Trained auditors, and Tourism Ministry Officers, conduct annual onsite audits to determine the star rating. This approach encourages businesses to uphold a set of minimum standards. However, failure to meet these standards could result in the non-issuance of a tourism license. In addition to fostering quality and safety, the star rating system is a constructive feedback mechanism. It facilitates improved communication and transparency between businesses and their patrons, driving enhancements in service delivery.
Among the initiatives tied to Tonga Mark is the Tonga Tourism Crisis Response and Recovery Strategy (TCRRS). Launched in 2021 on World Tourism Day, TCRRS addresses the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the HT-HH Volcanic Eruption. Working in harmony with relevant Tonga Government Line Ministries and the SPTO’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy, TCRRS underscores Tonga’s commitment to crisis management and recovery within the tourism sector.
Source: Tonga Ministry of Tourism
Photo Credits: Tonga Ministry of Tourism