Five Star First For YHA
As visitor numbers to New Zealand continue to increase, operators, industry leaders and the Government are focussing more on quality experiences and long-term sustainability for the visitor economy.
The first Five Star rating for a South Island hostel, announced under the new Qualmark grading system, is an illustration of the heightened standards of the budget accommodation sector, according to YHA New Zealand.
The Five Star grade, the highest Qualmark rating, was awarded to the Nelson YHA earlier this week.
Qualmark, a joint venture between Tourism New Zealand and the New Zealand Automobile Association, provides assessment for budget accommodation against a nationwide standard.
YHA General Manager Len West says the Association is extremely pleased with the grading, which rates the YHA¹s Nelson hostel as among the best available in New Zealand.
"This is a good example of the high standards we are aiming to set for the industry in providing good value accommodation that is also of the highest quality," says Len West.
"Budget travellers and backpackers make up an important part of the visitor industry, demanding and deserving quality service and facilities."
"The ratings are also an indication of the range of options our members have come to expect from YHA hostels, including environmental and cultural experiences and opportunities for personal development."
Nelson YHA manager Sean Gidall says the new rating is brilliant and one the hostel has worked hard for. The Nelson YHA has been a Tourism Award finalist in 1997 and 1998 and was the supreme winner for the regional tourism awards in 1999.
"With the new independently endorsed rating people will realise before they get to the hostel that we¹re offering a top line product," says Mr Gidall.
Qualmark CEO, Fiona Luhrs says under the system, hostels are scored across 20 different quality areas ranging from cleanliness to customer service and staff interaction, from the quality and ratios of bedroom, kitchen and bathroom facilities to recreational options, overall ambience and security.
"The assessment system focuses on things that backpackers have said are important to them, including atmosphere and ambience," says Qualmark CEO, Fiona Luhrs.
In addition to the Five Star rating for Nelson YHA, several other South Island hostels in the YHA network have received high Qualmark ratings, including Four Star Plus grades for Queenstown YHA and Te Anau YHA. Queenstown YHA is also a finalist in the 2001 Tourism Awards.
According to Mr West, Auckland International YHA is also aiming for a Five Star rating, once its assessment is completed in June.