Tourist service quality management in the ecotourism accomodation sector of KwaZulu-Natal
Naidoo, Krishna Murthi
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There is extensive focus on the practical performance of ecotourism in respect of environmentally invasive activities and the satisfaction of ecotourists in South Africa. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to evaluate the impact of quality management practices on service quality in the accommodation sector serving ecotourism destinations in KwaZulu-Natal. The study was conducted at 58 hotels within a 50 kilometre proximity to ecotourism development regions of KwaZulu-Natal province. Two separate self-administered questionnaires were designed for the hotel managers and for their guests. A quantitative approach and a census of 58 managers were conducted and the guest response of 587 was obtained using convenience sampling. The results revealed that there are mismatches in guests’ actual experience on the variables of interest for customer service quality and the importance they attach to each variable. The experience-importance findings show that most guests rated their experiences above the importance they attach to those experiences. Little attention has been paid to hotel service quality research pertaining specifically to quality-related performance. This study fills this gap by identifying congruent hotel service quality attributes and relating these to management performance by analysing the importance of these attributes for hotel-guests seeking experiences of the natural environment. The results of the study offer measures for ecotourism service quality enhancement for the ecotourists experience at the hotels and a starting point for hotel managers to optimise the service quality growth and development while protecting the resources on which they are based. Quality function deployment has emerged as a significant tool to guide hotel managers in ecotourism destinations to attain planned levels of guest service quality and formulate a well-informed and systematic framework that will advance strategies for service quality enhancement.