The Lilizela Tourism Awards gives us the opportunity to celebrate trailblazers, as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry in general.
A local lodge recently received top honours at the fourth Lilizela Tourism Awards, in which the South African tourism industry celebrated its top business owners and service providers.
Inyati Game Lodge,situated about 60 kilometres from Hazyview, walked away with the Visitor’s Experience Award for Best Wildlife Encounters.
Inyati is set in 65 000 hectares of unspoiled bushveld within the Sabi Sands Reserve, on the doorstep of the Kruger National Park and on the banks of the Sand River. Diversity of species and relaxed big game allow for close-up game viewing and photography.
“The gives us the opportunity to celebrate trailblazers, as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry in general. The awards 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 for tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom.
“With 5,8 million people having visited South Africa from January to July this year, the number of tourists is on the rise. By being service oriented, the businesses celebrated today help to ensure that this growth path continues, guaranteeing memorable experiences for all tourists,” he added.
The awards were established in 2013 to recognise and reward exemplary service among businesses in the local tourism sector, ranging from accommodation establishments and tour operators to scenic attractions and cultural heritage sites.
In 2016, the awards attracted a record number of 1 122 entries, up 18 per cent from the previous year’s total. Tourism businesses across the nine provinces were encouraged to enter, with a great call that they be graded with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, a unit of South African Tourism.
Members of the public were then invited to have their say on the Lilizela Tourism Awards website by voting. These votes, together with those from various platforms such as TripAdvisor and TGCSA’s Tourism Analytics Programme, formed 80 per cent of the score for each entry.
A panel of high-level judges, drawn from the industry and academia, contributed the remaining 20 per cent of each establishment’s score. From these calculations, 589 finalists were selected nationwide and each province held its own awards ceremony in the run-up to the national finals.
During these provincial award ceremonies, 262 provincial winners were celebrated. This was further narrowed down to 53 national winners, who were honoured on Sunday night.
Awards were made in a number of categories including the Service Excellence Award (with subcategories Accommodation, Visitor Experience, Tourist Guides and Tour Operators), Entrepreneurship (for emerging tourism businesses), Sustainability and Good Governance, and the prestigious Minister’s Award.