Tourism industry stars toasted at Lilizela Tourism Awards

The “best of the best” in the South African tourism industry were celebrated at the 2016 Lilizela Tourism Awards, held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 16 October 2016.

A total of 54 trophies were handed out to outstanding tourism business owners and service providers at the awards, which were hosted for the fourth time by the National Department of Tourism and South African Tourism.

Categories included Service Excellence (with sub-categories Accommodation, Visitor Experience, Tourist Guides and Tour Operators); Entrepreneurship (for emerging tourism businesses); Sustainability and Good Governance.

The national awards followed on the provincial awards ceremonies, during which 262 winners were selected out of a total of 589 finalists. This year’s awards attracted a record number of 1122 entries from tourism establishments of all types, including accommodation and conferencing facilities graded by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA).

During Sunday night’s star-studded and entertainment-packed national awards ceremony, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom presented the 2016 Minister’s Award to 80-year-old Mpumalanga artist Esther Mahlangu, whose colourful Ndebele designs have graced major international brands.

“Tonight is an opportunity to pause and thank these individuals and businesses for their contribution to putting South Africa firmly on the global stage by ensuring their product and service offerings are of the highest standard,” said Minister Hanekom.

Entry to the Lilizela Tourism Awards is free. Votes by members of the public, combined with feedback from various platforms such as TripAdvisor and the TGCSA’s Tourism Analytics Programme, are taken into account, with a panel of judges for each category also scoring each establishment. This year’s results were audited by Grant Thornton.

Entries for the 2017 Lilizela Tourism Awards open on 1 December 2016. Tourism businesses of all sizes are encouraged to enter in a bid to help develop, grow and transform the industry.

For more information, visit Click here for a glimpse of the glamour and excitement of the night, as those in the tourism trade came together to celebrate and be inspired by excellence in their midst.