Cape Town – Recognising the best in the South African tourism industry, the Lilizela Tourism Awards rewards the highest level of entrepreneurial and service excellence in the local tourism sector.
Running for a fifth year, annually, categories of the awards include service excellence, sustainable development and entrepreneurship, as well as accommodation establishments, tourist guides and visitor attractions in the tourism industry, among others.
Provincial award ceremonies began on 7 September in KwaZulu-Natal, hosted by the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, who said the Lilizela Awards encourages tourism establishments “to continually provide world class, authentic, memorable experiences to local and international travellers” which will foster “a more sustainable tourism sector.”
SEE: Lilizela Awards 2017 begins with celebrating the best in KZN tourism
The next provincial awards took place in Mpumalanga on 8 September, Tourism Month's host province, that received a total of 170 entries, 96 finalists being awarded certificates, and 32 of them will proceed to represent Mpumalanga in the national awards ceremony in Gauteng on 29 October.
Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa says that “Being selected as a Lilizela Tourism Awards finalist means you are among the best of the best in the country” and thanked all finalists for their contribution to SA’s tourism industry, which proves to create employment, encourage entrepreneurship and acts as a driver for other sectors of the economy.
Johannes Nobunga, CEO of MTPA, congratulated Mpumalanga's winners for "the effort they have put into positioning their products and especially the province".
"We believe that this achievement will enable others to learn from this outstanding work that is being delivered and further motivate others to participate,” he says.
SEE: Tourism as an economic driver: Here’s what Africa should be doing
Awards in the accommodation category went to 5-star Matumi Golf Lodge, Jock Safari Lodge and Valbonne Villa at Tomjachu Bush Retreat, among other winners. See the full list here.
Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to Lowveld Extreme Adventures, while the Tourist Guide award was taken by Jaco Buys.
The Visitor Experience Awards went to the following tourism establishments:
- Lowveld Extreme Adventures - Action and Adventure
- Potluck Bos kombius - Culture and Lifestyle
- Matsamo Cultural Village - Roots and Culture
- Blyde River Canyon - Scenic Beauty
- Inyati Game Lodge - Wildlife Encounters
SEE: #FindYourEscape: Exploring the best of the Panorama Route
Check out highlights from the event that took place in Mpumalanga:
The remaining provincial awards ceremonies will take place as follows:
• Free State on 14 September
• Limpopo on 15 September
• Northern Cape on 18 September 2017
• Western Cape on 19 September
• North West on 20 September
• Eastern Cape on 21 September; and
• Gauteng on 29 September.
The national winners, drawn from these provincial champions, will be announced at a gala event in Johannesburg on 29 October.
How winners are selected
The awards are adjudicated through a public vote and judging panel - with 80% of the scores from consumers and 20% from judges.
The public vote includes data from the Tourism Grading Council of SAT’s Analytics Programme which consolidates user reviews for establishments with an online presence, along with public votes on the Lilizela Tourism Awards website.
The judging panel includes 30-members - made up of industry professionals and travel practitioners - who evaluate accommodation establishments, tourist guides, tour operators, facilities for meetings, exhibitions and special events. “Exceptional visitor experiences in an array of categories were also assessed,” says SAT.
“Particular attention was paid to emerging black-owned tourism start-ups and small enterprises, as well as to establishments that have taken steps to improve their universal accessibility status, by welcoming and accommodating guests with special needs such as physical disabilities,” says SAT.
SEE: #SAHeritage: Breaking down tourism barriers
SATS Chief Executive Officer, Sisa Ntshona, says an annual review will follow each awards ceremony and that the criteria for the awards “are constantly being refined, through ongoing consultation and feedback surveys, to ensure that hospitality establishments, venues, service providers and tourism attractions meet industry and traveller requirements.”
He says that sustainability and contribution to inclusive growth have become important considerations in the adjudication process as there is a “growing need for sustainable and responsible practices in all tourism enterprises”.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- Lilizela Tourism Awards 2017 submissions now open
- Township Tourism: Why SA should value and invest in places like Khayelitsha
- Tourism as an economic driver: Here’s what Africa should be doing