MEC calls for tourism trade to enter
THE 2019 Lilizela Tourism Awards, which recognises service excellence and the “best of the best” in the hospitality industry opened for entries this week (April 1).
And Sihle Zikalala, the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, has issued a call that tourism players in KwaZulu-Natal should increase their participation in this year’s awards.
“We would like to see an increase in the number of KZN businesses entering this year, particularly among the emerging sector as these are very important high-profile awards and businesses that do well reap the rewards in recognition and publicity,” he said.
“And we would also like to see entries come from around the province and not just the main centres.
“We know there are potential and worthy winners in all sectors of the tourism sector out there and we want them to get the recognition they deserve. Their contribution helps grow tourism’s contribution to the GDP, creates jobs and contributes to South Africa’s global competitiveness.”
The Lilizela Tourism Awards-hailed as the “Oscars’’ of the industry-are an initiative of the national Department of Tourism and MEC Zikalala explained that that there are several categories that businesses can enter and that while it is a national competition, there will also be a special awards ceremony for provincial finalists and winners.
These winners will then go through to the national finals in Johannesburg, and KZN winners did the province proud last year by taking home nine top honours.
Phindile Makwakwa, the acting Chief Executive Officer of Tourism KZN, said that while KZN entries were on the increase, she too hoped to see many more this year.
“I am glad to say that numbers have been increasing over the years, but they have also been increasing in other provinces too, which means the competition at the national level has grown too. We had 185 entries last year and it would be great if we could reach the 200 mark for starters this time around,” she said.
The service excellence categories that entrants can enter including the Accommodation sector, which covers backpacker and hostelling; bed and breakfast, caravan and camping, country house, game lodge, nature reserve, guest house, hotel, lodge, self-catering: exclusive use and self-catering: shared vacation.
There is also a category for meetings, exhibitions and special events venues-and another for tourist guides (nature, guides, culture guides and adventure guides).
And there is another category for tour operators (emerging and established).
The category for visitor experience covers: roots and culture, culture and lifestyle, action and adventure, wildlife encounters, lap of luxury, beach experience, scenic beauty and marine adventures.
The sustainable development focus area covers the category of universal accessibility (experience and accommodation) with sub-categories being mobility, communicative and visual.
Entrepreneurship is catered for in the Eteya Award and there will be a winner as well as first, 2nd and third runner-up prizes.
MEC Zikalala will also make a special award to a business which he considers outstanding.
Entrance is free and to qualify, businesses must have been operating for at least one year and must have met all the necessary legal requirements, and where applicable, they must be graded by the SA Grading Council.
Eighty percent of the judging score is made up of consumer online votes and reviews (www.lilizela.co.za) and guest feedback forms, with the balance coming from the judges own deliberations.