According to the latest Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO) Annual Report, timeshare complaints accounted for only 4% during the reporting period 2017/2018, making up 250 out of the total 5 593 complaints received.
Alex Bosch, spokesperson for the Vacation Ownership Association of Southern Africa (VOASA) says, "The global timeshare industry comprises more than 20 million shared vacation owners and in South Africa there are 750 000 consumers enjoying timeshare vacations year after year.
We are proud that the vast majority of owners in South Africa are happy. However, it is also VOASA’s firm belief that if there was only one complaint that it would be one too many, and so we are committed to working closely with the CGSO to help those who are unhappy with their timeshare”.
VOASA conducted a further investigation into the nature of the complaints lodged and found that during the period 1 October 2017 to 30 April 2018, 72 out of 200 complaints received emanated from non-VOASA members.
“One of the key priorities of VOASA is to aid the protection of consumers and shared vacation owners from questionable companies operating on the fringe of the industry. We want to help consumers to be vigilant and not a victim.
These companies usually operate under the guise of being a legitimate timeshare resale company or travel club. As a result, the reputation of the industry suffers damage and VOASA members who operate legitimate businesses are impacted negatively,” explained Bosch.
VOASA says important not lose sight of the bigger picture when dealing with complaints.
With timeshare said to be a growing industry across 121 countries and several continents, it creates annual sales of approximately 17 billion USD (about R250bn @ R14.73/$).
VOASA says South Africa is "one of the world’s leading shared vacation ownership markets", ranking as the 5th highest country for vacation ownership and 4th in terms of future purchase interest with considerable international appeal.
This is according to a global survey conducted by Oxford Economics and Leger for the American Resort Development Association. Traveller24 caught up with them to find out a bit more.
READ: Timeshare in a Nutshell
What are the core benefits of owning timeshare?
VOASA: The inherent value of timeshare products comes in using them to take regular vacations with accommodations that provide more space than most other travel options.
By paying for a number of years holidays upfront at today’s prices, you are safeguarding your holiday costs against inflation and peak season rates. This is why shared vacation owners have an extremely engaged relationship with their timeshare and the timeshare lifestyle that is driven by the quality of resorts and accommodations, prime locations, cost savings on future vacation costs and making a vacation a certainty rather than a possibility.
Not only is shared vacation ownership good for our health by ensuring that we take regular holidays, it’s also good for our country’s economy.
According to a Grant Thornton survey, the South African timeshare is a R3.5 billion per annum industry that has a significant footprint in the tourism and hospitality sectors. Furthermore, its knock-on effect has a positive impact on the country’s economy by contributing billions of rand to the GDP and generating employment for around 27 000 people.
Timeshare owners generally spend more than double what a hotel guest spends in the areas around the property because their accommodation is prepaid, proving the value of timeshare resorts to the local economy. To further illustrate this point, the major timeshare resorts were compared with major hotels in three popular tourism regions - Umhlanga, Hazyview and the Drakensberg. In each region timeshare accounted for approximately 63% of the available accommodation, contributing significantly to the local economy in these regions.
What are the disadvantages of timeshare and how can owners manage this better?
VOASA is mandated to promote the industry and its products and does not have any disadvantages to mention.
However, the timeshare industry (as any other) does face certain challenges – the biggest being that of deceptive or fraudulent activity by non-co-operative suppliers. These companies usually operate under the guise of being a legitimate timeshare resale company or travel club. As a result, the reputation of the industry suffers damage and VOASA members who operate legitimate businesses are negatively impacted.
As per the recently released CGSA annual report mentioned earlier, VOASA members says the number of complaints should be considered in context to the overall numbers. Relative to the number of complaints, it is also important to note that according to a global survey conducted by Oxford Economics and Leger on behalf of the American Resort Development Association, there are over 20 million timeshare owners. In South Africa, there are 750 000 timeshare owners enjoying quality vacations year after year.
Consumers are encouraged to only deal with accredited VOASA members, which can be checked on the member’s directory on the association’s website.
There is also a list of purchasing guidelines on the website to empower consumers with the knowledge needed when buying or selling timeshare. Consumers can visit www.voasa.co.za or call (021) 975-9607 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
How does the trend of holiday clubs differ from that of timeshare?
Conventional timeshare ownership entails the payment of an upfront sum for a fully furnished accommodation plus yearly maintenance fees.
Depending on the agreement, owners either own the rights to a specific, fixed week (for example 1 – 7 January each year) or the rights to a floating arrangement where you can visit for a week within a period each year (for example a week between the months June and August every year).
Vacation Clubs are a newer variation of the conventional timeshare model and presented an opportunity to invigorate the product offering.
Instead of purchasing the rights to a specific unit, vacation club members pay an upfront sum to purchase a number of points, which can be redeemed for different vacations each year. Annual resort maintenance fees still apply, but are not subject to any profit.
The number of points translate to different types of vacations based on the desirability of the resort’s location and the time of the year. The points-based system enables individuals on a variety of budgets to enjoy annual, week-long vacations at premium resorts without outright ownership.
CHECK OUT: How to get rid of your timeshare
Finally, according to your industry data - which destinations are growing in popularity for South Africans and why?
Tsogo Sun Resorts reported that the traditional high demand local destinations remain the destinations of choice for many South Africans. These would generally cover the beach, berg and bush holiday experiences. Beach properties (particularly uMhlanga) run at year-round occupancies in the 90% range, and the bush and berg occupancies are not far behind.
RCI summed it up as:
Cape Town, Western Cape
Mpumalanga, Kruger National Park
Durban - uMhlanga
- Plettenberg Bay, Garden Route
North West Province, Sun City
The Leisure Portfolio Club stated that a large number of their Gauteng based timeshare members are more inclined to choose destinations closer to home - Mpumalanga (1st), North West (2nd), Gauteng (3rd) - to save on travel costs impacted by the hike in the fuel price and toll fees.
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