JOHANNESBURG: South African tourism service excellence was the biggest winner on Sunday 29 October 2017, when the fifth annual Lilizela Tourism Awards lit up the Sandton Convention Centre with an unforgettable night of the stars.
A cross-section of graded accommodation and meetings exhibitions & special events (MESE) establishments were toasted alongside several industry luminaries and emerging entrepreneurs during a splendid awards ceremony that saw performances by Yvonne Chaka and Mafikizolo leave the audience spellbound.
Tourism Minister, Tokozile Xasa paid special tribute to South Africa’s outstanding small tourism businesses. This was of great significance as the South Africa’s burgeoning tourism sector has been identified by the government as one of the six pillars of the country’s future economic growth.
“You add diversity and new flavours to our tourism offering and you contribute to social cohesion and empower communities. You are entrepreneurs who are contributing to our economy, by creating jobs that feed families and nourish communities. You are the living embodiment of the inclusive, transformed economic growth that our country aspires to,” said Minister Xasa.
Without doubt the highlight of the evening was when the Honourable Minister inducted Esther Mahlangu, South Africa’s world-renowned Ndebele artist and industrial design trailblazer, into the Lilizela Hall of Fame. Mam’ Esther, who received the Minister’s Award last year, became the inaugural Hall of Fame inductee for being an exemplary global ambassador for South Africa’s indigenous arts and cultural heritage.
South African Tourism’s Chief Executive Officer, Sisa Ntshona, noted that it had not been an easy year for tourism, with natural disasters, a sluggish economy and other factors making the operating environment a difficult one to navigate.
“But, despite these setbacks, our tourism industry has forged ahead with remarkable resilience and has insisted that it will be business as usual. You are true examples of what it means to ‘do tourism’ – our movement that encourages South Africans to place tourism and the broader tourism economy at the heart of all they do. You are helping us to stand tall and proud as a tourism destination,” Ntshona said.
The Lilizela Tourism Awards are an initiative of the National Department of Tourism and are spearheaded by South African Tourism. The awards were established in 2013 to recognise and reward exemplary service among businesses in the local tourism sector, ranging from graded establishments and tour operators to scenic attractions and cultural heritage sites. The awards are adjudicated through public votes and by a panel of industry judges, and are audited by Grant Thornton.
Entry to the Lilizela National Tourism Awards is free but reserved for TGCSA graded establishments only. Tourism businesses of all sizes are encouraged to enter in a bid to help develop, grow and transform the industry while celebrating its achievements. For a full list of the 2017 Lilizela Tourism Award winners, visit www.lilizela.co.za.