VOASA, the Vacation Ownership Association for Southern Africa, held its first conference since changing its name from the Timeshare Institute of South Africa to reflect changes in the industry. The event took place at the Southern Sun Grayston in Johannesburg last month.
One of the main industry issues discussed at the conference was the new Consumer Protection Bill in South Africa, which will change the way the vacation ownership industry communicates with customers.
The Consumer Protection Bill was voted in September 2008 and signed into law in April 2009. It seeks to provide a broad framework for consumer protection in South Africa, and applies to every transaction between a supplier and a consumer as well as every advertisement to prospective consumers.
“The new Consumer Protection Act will have significant practical impact on the nature of contractual warranties provided to consumers, refund policies and the general formulation of contractual terms and conditions, particularly standard form contracts and the way in which those contracts must be interpreted by courts,” said Brendan Hughes, Senior Consultant at Michalsons Attorneys, speaking at the Conference.
A new enforcement body for consumer protection, the National Consumer Commission, will now be established and is expected to start implementing the new law by November 2010, allowing some time for businesses to clean their act.
The growth of green tourism and the effects of the global credit crisis on the vacation ownership industry were also discussed at the VOASA conference.