It is a sad day when one has to question transparency and integrity at Fedhasa — South Africa’s oldest representative hospitality organisation.
The whole issue of Rooms4U has been covered in previous blog posts (click here to read them all) but what was missing was any response from Fedhasa — which is at the centre of the whole controversy.
I wrote to Eddy Khosa, Fedhasa’s chair, on December 16 and followed up with a phone call. He said he would respond promptly and confirmed this by email. I wrote again on December 22 and he responded the same day: “Will revert back to you not later than tomorrow before close of business.” After another reminder on January 7, he responded: “I am investigating the matter at the moment. I will revert back to you.” On January 16, I wrote again (copied to Stuart Lumke, Fedhasa’s deputy chair and Phillip Couvaras, Western Cape chair) saying my email to Khosa would be published if no response was received. No answer.
My email to Eddy Khosa (dated 16-12-2009) said the following:
Before publishing the stories about Rooms4U, I raised a query with Fedhasa but received no response. Cape Town Routes Unlimited also drew the attention of Fedhasa Cape’s chair to our content. Since publishing the articles I have been inundated with emails asking, “What response from Fedhasa?”
I should appreciate your response to the following:
- It does appear that Fedhasa is, at worst, being used with the approval of its board as a front by its CEO to pursue personal business interests and those of his company, Kiara Holdings, or at best, to further personal interests using his position at Fedhasa.
- It appears that Fedhasa has ignored ethical considerations and the obvious questions that would be asked as a result of these actions. A reader’s comment about Rooms4U on CapeInfo’s blog states: “Their approach was amateurish and unprofessional and immediately invited questions.”
- It appears that Kiara Holdings has tried to mislead the public and may still be doing so by making false statements on their website. By doing so it is drawing Fedhasa into disrepute. The Travelwires website goes so far as to suggest that either TBCSA or Kiara Holdings is lying.
At the same time, it appears that nothing is that straightforward or quite what it seems. It does seem that so-called representative tourism organisations have failed the industry and South Africa as a whole.
Much has been made of Rooms4U’s claim as South Africa’s official accommodation portal, endorsed by major tourism organisations and government. There was some backtracking and “clarification”, resulting in endorsements removed and ending up with only Fedhasa’s endorsement. Now is that surprising? Kiara Holding’s MD, Brett Dungan, is also Fedhasa’s CEO.
I suppose that also explains why, while TBCSA and SATSA do not endorse private ventures, Fedhasa does…
If CapeInfo’s interaction with Eddy Khosa isn’t an example of ducking and diving, I don’t know what is. And that’s very sad because Fedhasa’s credibility suffers.
(This post was emailed to Fedhasa’s chair and CEO prior to publication. No response was received.)
Note: Eddy Khoza is Fedhasa’s national chairperson. CapeInfo enjoys an excellent, close relationship with Fedhasa Cape.