Illegal tourism businesses rife in city

2016-10-26 06:00

ILLEGAL tourism business in the city continues to plague the Msunduzi Pietermaritzburg Tourism Association (MPTA), which told businesses operating in the industry to ensure they have all the necessary paperwork in place.

Dumisani Mhlongo, MPTA director, told Maritzburg Fever that business owners must ensure their paperwork is in order - this comes on the back of endless complaints received from the public.

“The main area of concern is bed and breakfasts in Pietermaritzburg and surrounds. We have received many complaints from people, who booked in at these places and then complain about the lack of service and hygiene,” he said.

He said there are many businesses that have only half the necessary documentation to operate.

“All businesses require not only inspection and approval from the municipality, they also need to be registered with us so that we know they are operational.

“There should be no confusion around the process. We are continuously creating awareness about the necessary steps for tourism businesses to follow. I am tempted to say that the amount of illegal businesses has been on the rise based on the amount of complaints we are receiving.”

Mhlongo said there are mainly two broad areas of complaints - one being the quality of service the business provides and the other being the prices they charge and the value for many, or lack thereof, for customers.

“Often people look online when looking for accommodation. They find a place, visit their website and look at the facilities.

“But often, what is on the website is not what the place actually looks like. We are therefore also appealing to people to be vigilant when looking for accommodation.

“They are welcome to contact us at the tourism offices to check whether the place they want to stay at is registered,” he said.

Mhlongo added that while MPTA does not have the mandate to enforce the rules, there is a plan in place by Msunduzi Municipality to address illegal businesses.

“It is very unfair situation not only for those who have legal businesses because they have unfair competition, but also because these businesses prevent the city from deriving income from rates, and the like.

“All we can do is continue to appeal to businesses to register,” he said.

For more information, contact MPTA at 033 345 1348/9.

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