South Africa’s finest tourism entrepreneurs honoured at the Lilizela Tourism Awards

“The Lilizela Tourism Awards herald a new beginning in recognising and rewarding tourism players who have made excellence in tourism the minimum standard”

The inaugural Lilizela Tourism Awards national winners were announced earlier this evening at a sparkling function held at the Tshwane Events Centre and attended by the who’s who of the tourism industry. These inaugural awards celebrate the best of the tourism industry’s service records and act as a benchmark for excellence across the tourism sector.

“The Lilizela Tourism Awards were created to honour the outstanding contributions of tourism establishments and individuals who are driving innovation and delivering quality service and products. All of the winners – provincially and nationally – have not only set the standard for global excellence, but they have also demonstrated why our country continues to be one of the most frequently visited by tourists from all over the world,” says Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

“Our visitors from abroad as well as our local travellers have had fantastic experiences, and this is reflected in the Service Excellence category where visitors were encouraged to vote. In addition, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa’s star grading is working to ensure that our accommodation establishments are on par with global offerings – all contributing to phenomenal traveller experiences,” he says.

“I am incredibly proud to be part of an industry that has such high standards and impeccable service excellence records. Over the last few months, we have been privy to some exceptional entries all of which show the level of detail establishment owners go to ensure visitor experience is comfortable and reliable. This is what sets our country and its offerings apart from the rest of the world,” adds van Schalkwyk

More than one thousand submissions were received across all but two of the categories, that being ETEYA and the Minister’s Awards. The latter is a completely new addition and was introduced specifically for the inaugural launch while the ETEYA finalists were announced earlier during the year at INDABA.

The Minister’s Award is a distinct category from the other Awards. This particular award was made, and will continue to be made, at the sole discretion of the Minister of Tourism. It seeks to honour recipients who have made a noteworthy local and global contribution to tourism economically and socially. The Minister’s Award is considered the crème de la crème of the industry and one that everyone in the sector should aspire to receiving.

“The Lilizela Minister’s Award came about in response to my heartfelt need to acknowledge excellence in our tourism industry,” says van Schalkwyk.

The award was presented to Mr Jabu Mabuza for his exceptional contribution to the tourism sector. Mabuza has played a leadership role in Tsogo Sun, which he has helped to build into one of the top gaming and hotel groups in the world, interalia as chief executive officer (CEO) and, today, as deputy chairperson of the board.

He was appointed to lead the SA Tourism Board in 2003, contributing his wealth of private-sector experience, strengthening and enhancing the partnership between government and industry in order to deliver on the tourism promise. He helped to grow this industry into a major contributor to economic growth and employment, and always did so in a wise, dignified and level-headed way. He lead the organisation through the tough times of the 2008/9 financial crisis, and during the victorious delivery of the best FIFA World Cup ever, in 2010.

He is also well respected as chairperson of Telkom, in which role the media have dubbed him “Mr Fixit”; as president of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), from which base he continues to engage with government on the collective implementation of the National Development Plan; as trustee of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the list goes on. On the international stage, he continues to play a leading role as South African representative on the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) board.

For a full list of the winners click here.