It's all systems go for the 2018 Lilizela Tourism Awards, which recognises and rewards those individuals and businesses that place SA high as a must-visit tourist destination, as public voting has come to a close.
The local travel industry's best products, experiences and people - across a range of categories - will be judged by a 28-member panel of experts from all over the industry.
An initiative of the National Department of Tourism (NDT) and spearheaded by South African Tourism (SAT), the Lilizela Awards have been taking place since 2012 with an annual, star-studded ceremony. Following the provincial Awards ceremonies during Tourism Month in September, the national winners will be announced on 27 October at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
SEE: SA's tourism shines bright at annual Lilizela Awards
Darryl Erasmus, Chief Quality Assurance Officer at SAT, says that the judges "will certainly have their work cut out for them" when selecting the winners.
"Our industry can only truly grow through partnerships and collaborations, we would therefore like to thank all those who heeded the call and put their hands up to judge this year’s award entry," says Erasmus.
The public have contributed 80% of the scores, and the judges will consider this when evaluating the finalists. "Exceptional visitor experiences in an array of categories will also be tested and toasted," confirms the Awards.
Meet the judges:
- Ari Seirlis - Chief Executive Officer, QuadPara Association of SA.
- Phillip Thompson - Principal Member, IDC Consultants.
- Chanel du Plessis - Lead Consultant, Urban-Econ.
- Robert Max Reichel - Accommodation Manager, Tourist Guide and Tour Operator, Stille Waters Guest Farm, Kapele Tourism Services.
- Aluscha Ritchie - Board Member, Cape Town Tourism.
- Jonker Fourie - Chief Executive Officer, Emfuleni Corridor Tourism (ECTOUR).
- Phrosne Phillips - Managing Director, Brochure Management.
- Kananelo Makhetha - Chief Executive Officer, Travelex.
- Winston Coerecius - Rector, South Cape FET College.
- Ntlotleng Manale - Founder and Chief Visionary, Black Empire Marketing.
- Siphokazi Mjali - Accredited Independent Assessor, CATHSSETA/FOODBEVSETA and in Various SETAs.
- Dr Portia Pearl Siyanda Sifolo - Academic: Department of Tourism Management, Tshwane University of Technology.
- Dr Johannes Hattingh - Lecturer: Department of Tourism and Event Management.
- Sthandiwe Mkhize - Chairman, Thinking Pair Group of Companies.
- Rebecca Kambule - Owner, Rempo Consulting.
- Nesang Maleka - Director, Mzansi Tourism Experience.
- Ntokozo Luvuno - Business Consultant/Advisor, Mzansi Tourism Experience.
- Dewald Niemann - Owner, Oudebosch Farmstall and Tsitsikamma Protea Farm Tours.
- Dr Veronique Labuschagne - Senior Lecturer: Tourism Management, Vaal University of Technology.
- Hloni Thabethe - Managing Director, Ndalo Hotel & Conferencing.
- Gerhard Franken - Consultant, By Design Africa.
- Unathi Henama - Lecturer, Tshwane University of Technology.
- Vusumuzi Mlanjana - Lecturer, Walter Sisulu University.
- Professor Rene Haarhoff - Head of the Department, Central University of Technology, Free State.
- Barry Clemens - Chief Executive Officer, EQ Hotel Management & Business Solutions.
- Mr Khwezi kaMPUMLWANA - currently responsible for South Africa’s World Heritage Listing Programme of Liberation Sites under the leadership of the National Heritage Council.
- Ms Uveshnee Pillay - Director: Tourist Guiding at the National Department of Tourism.
- Dr Julie Reddy - Deputy Chief Executive Office of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
Data from the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa’s Tourism Analytics Programme - a platform with reviews for establishments that have an online presence and includes reviews from TripAdvisor - will also be used by the judges. The adjudication process and results will be audited by Nexia SAB & T.
Role of tourism for growth
SAT CEO Sisa Ntshona says that the Awards is an "opportunity to celebrate passionate and committed trailblazers as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry”.
The Awards will place emphasis on emerging black-owned tourism start-ups, small enterprises, and tourism businesses that have improved universal access by catering for visitors with special needs such as physical disabilities.
The Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award, launched in 2001, encourages the development of Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMME’s). This is awarded to black entrepreneurs (as defined in the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act) who have been operating for more than a year and less than 10 years, employ fewer than 50 people, and have a turnover of less than R10 million a year.
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“We are proud that through the Lilizela Tourism Awards, we have increased awareness of the important role that tourism plays in spurring on economic growth in the region. The prestige that is associated with this awards initiative is evidence that South African Tourism’s ongoing drive to promote service excellence and product grading through the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) is yielding positive results for the tourism industry,” adds Ntshona.
Accommodation establishments must be graded with the TGCSA to enter, and those yet to be graded are encouraged to do so on the site. "The TGCSA is the only recognised and globally benchmarked quality assurance body for tourism products in South Africa," says SAT.
New public participation category
According to SAT, in 2017 the Awards attracted a record number of 1 649 entries - up by about 40% from 2016’s figure.
At the 2017 event, former Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa said this year's Awards will see a new public participation category being added - the “We Do Tourism Award” - which, in the spirit of asking South Africans to rally around tourism, acts as a catalyst for inclusive economic growth.
According to Xasa, South Africans from all walks of life will have the opportunity to nominate dynamic individuals who they believe deserve to be recognised for contributing to making South Africa more welcoming.
"We also thank our provincial partners for ensuring that a cross-section of South Africa’s business and service providers enter the awards ensuring that a diversity of experiences are represented," adds Erasmus. Click here for more information.