Francolinhof guest house in Hermanus is the first establishment in South Africa to receive a Universal Accessibility rating in the Mobility Category from the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. Francolinhof’s Gold rating means that it has at least one room and all its public areas complying with the standards required to be universally accessible. (Picture: Francolinhof set in picturesque Hermanus.)
“The objective of this rating is to create additional independence and open up travel opportunities to a large sector of travellers who have, up to now, been hampered by a lack of access to, and information about, facilities’ ability to accommodate them,” says Thembi Kunene, CEO of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.The Universal Accessibility programme was launched in August 2007 using input from organisations such as the Quadriplegic Association of South Africa, the National Council for the Physically Disabled, the South African Council for the Blind, and the Deaf Federation of South Africa. The scheme will make travel in South Africa more accessible for people around the world challenged by mobility, hearing and visual impairments. In South Africa almost 10 million people live with mobility, hearing and visual impairments. (Picture: Francolinhof’s accessible suite has a spacious bathroom.)
Assessment of facilities includes inspecting a comprehensive list of criteria that would assess things such as the level of slip resistant surfaces, the tiling, carpeting, size of door openings and lettering on signage, flashing lights on phones, voice amplification, etc. This will determine which level of rating under which category an establishment chooses to be assessed.
“I hope that Francolinhof is the first of many guest houses to be awarded such a grading, so that travelling and holidaying will become ever easier for guests in wheelchairs or with special mobility needs”, says Mary Faure, owner of Francolinhof. Faure and her husband Jean had a previous career in healthcare and rehabilitation, and are aware of the difficulties encountered by less mobile patients and clients. “We wanted to ensure that less mobile guests would feel as welcome and comfortable at FrancolinHof as any mobile guests.” (Picture: The Francolinhof bedroom is luxurious.)
Southern Sun, City Lodge Group and Protea Hotels Group will be the first hotel groups to open their doors to a team of specially trained assessors in January 2008.