When VOASA was established in 1990, nobody could predict the influence it would have on the South African timeshare industry as its trade association. A big part of that success over the past 33 years can be attributed to the support from its members and the close working relationships within the hospitality/tourism industry and government.
The Power of Advocacy
Under the previous banner of the Timeshare Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) the founding members welded together a variety of core industry objectives which were published as “to create, maintain and develop an environment within which long-term viability and growth of timeshare and vacation ownership, can be optimally ensured”.
As the industry grew, so too did the need for a strong advocacy organisation with a code of ethics and best-practice guidelines for all integrated components of the industry.
Today, in its capacity as the self-regulatory member-based trade association for timeshare in South Africa, VOASA works hand-in-hand with its members and stakeholders to meet the highest ethical standards. This is achieved through adherence to an industry Code of Conduct (the Code), which is a condition of membership.
Robin Mills, Vice President of Business Development Europe, Middle East, Africa and India EMEA:
“Panorama/RCI is fully supportive of VOASA in fulfilling their role of representing the Vacation Ownership Industry in South Africa and their quest of providing the developers, industry partners as well as the consumers of vacation ownership products with sound advice, information, and advocacy. RCI’s long term commitment to the South African Vacation Ownership Industry remains as strong as ever and we are proud to contribute to the commendable efforts of VOASA by being a member of the board of directors of the Association.”
The Code has over the years formed an integral part of VOASA’s compliance efforts by setting the benchmark for performance in the industry. The Code contains the minimum standards for good governance and aims to promote the trust and confidence of industry regulators, media, general public and most importantly timeshare owners and members.
Focusing on the regulatory issues within timeshare is key to the success of the industry and a more vibrant marketplace conducive to growth. When timeshare began more than 50 years ago, perpetuity was front and centre in product design. At that time there was more simplicity in a real property interest rather than today’s more complex right-of-use structure.
If it had not been for the inherent consumer legislations that make the product safe, then the large hospitality brands would not have entered the industry and changed the course of credibility and overall reputation.
Neville Beekman, Executive Director of the Beekman Group:
“At the Beekman Group, we appreciate how VOASA has evolved to remain relevant. From the beginning of our relationship over 30 years ago when VOASA (then the Timeshare Institute of South Africa) was at that stage more for resort developers to have representation on industry matters, to the inclusive and supportive body it is for the entire timeshare and hospitality industry of today.”
The Power of Partnerships
VOASA could not accomplish all that it does without the power of partnerships with other industry associations, legislators and regulatory authorities. The breadth and depth of macroeconomic issues do not only affect the timeshare industry and in these instances other trade associations may be better positioned to lobby government. For example, the uncertainty and confusion around the implementation of the new Property Practitioners Act and Regulations.
VOASA represents the timeshare sector on the Board of the National Property Practitioners Council (NPPC) which enables the Association “a seat at the table” with the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority when determining future legislation impacting the timeshare industry. Further, VOASA is in discussion with the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority to define the education requirements for timeshare property operators.
Joseph Sakoneka, Chief Executive Officer of the National Property Practitioners Council:
“This strategic objective is perfectly congruent with the NPPC’s mission, which inter alia entails consolidating the voice of the sector on industry-wide issues through engaging stakeholders such as government, property practitioners and regulators. Given the similarities of the strategic objectives of both the NPPC and VOASA, having the Association join the NPPC will inevitably yield mutually beneficial synergies.”
Another example is VOASA’s working relationship with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), which allows VOASA to leverage their “seat at the table” when lobbying government on national issues such the current energy crisis and the COVID pandemic in 2020.
VOASA also works very closely with the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO) who recently praised the timeshare industry for the manner in which it facilitates consumer complaints.
Maguata Mphahlele, Ombudsman, the CGSO:
“I am grateful for the relationship that we have with VOASA. In 2019/2020, the number of timeshare complaints amounted to 3% and over the past two years it has gone down to 1% of the complaints we receive. Because of the work that has been done in the industry, timeshare is not an issue anymore. We refer complaints to other ombudsman and associations, and VOASA is one of these associations that has its own internal complaints mechanism that we are grateful for. The advantage of having industry associations with their own Code of Conduct, some of which go beyond the CPA, is that they are able to offer consumers redress that the CSGO would otherwise not have been able to do. That is why we appreciate the relationship that we have with industry associations, and we want to send the message to VOASA – let’s continue to talk.”