Lilizela award winners announced
Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, awarded the 2016 Minister’s Award, to Mpumalanga artist, Esther Mahlangu, who was recognised for placing South African traditional art on the international map.
Springbok Atlas Tours and Safaris, Tintswalo Atlantic, Jock Safari Lodge and Taj Cape Town were among the winners of the fourth annual Lilizela Tourism Awards.
Opening the awards dinner, Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, congratulated all finalists, emphasising that it was the excellence of the service and product that they provided that drove tourism demand. “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.”
Springbok Atlas Tours and Safaris won the tour operator category. Finalists in this category included Ulysses Tours and Safaris, Imonti Tours and Tim Brown Tours. Tintswalo Atlantic won the award for Five Star Lodge, Jock Safari Lodge won the award for Five Star Game Lodge and Taj Cape Town won the award for Five Star Hotel. The winners of the tourist guide wards were Sidney Fhumulani Mikosi and James Fernie for the nature and culture categories respectively. The full list of award winners will be published on the Lilizela website here.
The 2016 Minister’s Award, which recognises tourism innovators and pioneers, was given to Mpumalanga artist, Esther Mahlangu, who was recognised for placing South African traditional art on the international map. “We salute Mam’ Esther, who is truly a national treasure and an outstanding ambassador for South Africa’s rich cultural offerings,” said Minister Hanekom.
The Minister said entries to this year’s awards had grown 18% from last year, with a record 1 122 entries. Most winners were from the Western Cape, with 17 awards, followed by the Eastern Cape with 10. Entries for the 2017 Lilizela Awards open on December 1, 2016. The awards are based on votes from members of the public, together with those from various platforms such as TripAdvisor and TGCSA’s Tourism Analytics Programme, as well a panel of judges.
The Minister was upbeat about the performance of the tourism sector. He said, while 2015 had seen a dip in arrivals, the average length of stay in South Africa had increased, with the result that tourism revenue grew by R4 billion (€254m) last year. He said this was expected to increase even more in 2016 as arrivals from key source markets were up by over 20% for the first six months of the year, including China, which was up by over 60% on 2015 figures.
Hanekom also highlighted South Africa’s recent accolades, including being recognised by Condé Nast as one of the top 20 countries to visit. South Africa was listed fourth after Greece, Italy and the USA. South Africa was placed ahead of destinations including France, Spain, Thailand, Morocco and Australia.