Lilizela Award winners announced

Winners of the National Lilizela awards

Winners of the National Lilizela awards

The Lilizela Awards seek to uncover the best that tourism has to offer in the country. First hosted regionally in each province where service providers are recognised for their outstanding services at a provincial level, the pinnacle is the National Lilizela Awards, which took place this past Saturday.

The winners from all the nine provinces are automatically considered finalists for the national awards, who then compete in what Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom calls “the Oscars of the tourism sector”.

The panel tasked with the responsibility of choosing final winners from the vast pool of provincial winners comprised 28 judges. A large part of the awards were attributed largely to accommodation service providers under the category “Service Excellence”. These awards were awarded in each star category ranging from one to five stars in accordance with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA), a system used to benchmark accommodation in line with global standards. It comes as no surprise that this section takes up a large part of the awards, considering that where and how one sleeps is the first step in planning any trip and largely determines the nature of one’s travels.

One might at first glance sneer at the thought of a single star accommodation, but these establishments have been benchmarked by the TGCSA as providing the best of the most basic facilities in their category, thus also providing visitors with great value for money. Hanekom said that the new and revised grading standards as part of this quality assurance for accommodation will be implemented from April 1 2019, which will include new categories such as boutique hotels and a new 5-Star premium grading level “reserved for the pinnacle of luxury products in South Africa”.

Any travellers nightmare is to arrive at a B&B with high expectations of what was offered on paper only to have an underwhelming experience. This is why when travelling, one should seek second and third opinions on establishments one wishes to sleep at. So when travelling and making decisions about one’s destinations, an authoritative voice is useful to help guide our decision-making process. Awards like the Lilizela Awards, with a wide variety of categories and a rigorous selection process that starts at a provincial level, are a good starting point for making reliable decisions about where to go and what to do.

Hanekom said in his opening address that the tourism industry is one of the most promising and growing industries in the country, currently responsible for 1.5 million jobs. In his presidential inaugural speech, President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned that given the wonderful destinations that South Africa boasts along with its locals, the sector can and ought to create more jobs. The president’s Economic Recovery Plan mentioned government’s commitment to promoting tourism through destination marketing and reduced regulatory barriers, such as the recent relaxation of regulations for people traveling with minors.

“Travel is fast becoming more experience-based than destination-driven. This is why we are working hard to position our country not only as affordable, value-for-money destination for the international traveller, but also as a country that has unique and diverse offering for all people across the globe.”

Hosts of the night Xolani Gwala and Leanne Manas, chief executive of South African Tourism Sisa Ntshona and almost everyone who came up on stage spoke about the centenary year of struggle icons Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, which saw a big drive to promote tourism in what has been dubbed a significant year.

“From nature safaris, to adventure and culture, urban living to authentic township and rural encounters, we invited every corner of the world to join in the celebrations of this significant year of our revered and much-loved heroes, and to experience South Africa’s warm, friendly and hospitable citizens,” said Hanekom in his closing remarks.

If the night was anything to go by, the awards were a reflection of the wide-ranging experiences that South African tourism has to offer. The list of winners should serve as a good reference list when planning your next holiday. Here are the winners from the night in their different categories:

Service Excellence

2 Star Backpacking & Hosteling: Amapondo Backpackers, Eastern Cape

3 Star Backpacking & Hosteling: Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers, Gauteng

4 Star Backpacking & Hosteling: Once in Joburg, Gauteng

5 Star Backpacking & Hosteling: Saltycrax Backpackers,Western Cape

3 Star Bed and Breakfast: Azalea Bed and Breakfast, KwaZulu-Natal

4 Star Bed and Breakfast: Forest Hall Guest House, Eastern Cape

5 Star Bed and Breakfast: The Kingsman Boutique Hotel, Eastern Cape

2 Star Caravan & Camping: Tented Adventures, Mpumalanga

3 Star Caravan & Camping: Drakensville Holiday Resort, KwaZulu-Natal

4 Star Caravan & Camping: ATKV Natalia Beach Resort, KwaZulu-Natal

5 Star Caravan & Camping: Cannon Rocks Holiday Resort, Eastern Cape

2 Star Country House: Old Thomas River Ramble, Eastern Cape

3 Star Country House: Hawklee Country House, KwaZulu-Natal

4 Star Country House: Mountain View Country Guest House, Eastern Cape

5 Star Country House: Umsisi House, Mpumalanga

3 Star Game Lodge: Umlani Bushcamp, Mpumalanga

4 Star Game Lodge: Tintswalo Manor House, Mpumalanga

5 Star Game Lodge: Tintswalo Safari Lodge, Mpumalanga

3 Star Guest House: Panorama Guest House, Eastern cape

4 Star Guest House: Dongola House, Western Cape

5 Star Guest House: Villa Afrikana Guest Suites, Western Cape

3 Star Lodge: Tembe Elephant Park & Lodge, KwaZulu-Natal

4 Star Lodge: Needles Safari Lodge, Mpumalanga

5 Star Lodge: Tintswalo Atlantic Lodge, Western Cape

2 Star Self-catering: Exclusive Nselweni Bush Lodge, KwaZulu-Natal

3 Star Self-catering: Exclusive Beverley Country Cottages, KwaZulu-Natal

4 Star Self-catering: Exclusive Anne’s Place Potchefstroom, North West

5 Star Self-catering: Exclusive Livingstone Villa, Western Cape

1 Star Self-catering Shared Vacation: Graskop Holiday Resort, Mpumalanga

3 Star Self-catering Shared Vacation: ATKV Klein-Kariba Holiday Resort, Limpopo

1 Star Hotel: Road Lodge Southgate, Gauteng

2 Star Hotel: Town Lodge Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

3 Star Hotel: Mpekweni Beach Resort, Eastern Cape

4 Star Hotel: Feathers Boutique Hotel, Western Cape

5 Star Hotel: The Oyster Box Hotel, KwaZulu-Natal

Meetings and Exhibitions

3 Star MESE: ATKV Klein-Kariba Conference Centre, Limpopo

4 Star MESE: Oxbow Country Estate, Gauteng

5 Star MESE: The Forum | The Campus, Gauteng

Tourists Guide Awards

Nature Guide: Tim Brown from Kwazulu Natal

Cultural Guide: Valentino Meirotti from Gauteng

Adventure Guide: Daniel Mogale from Limpopo

Visitor Experience

Action & Adventure

AfriCanyon River Adventures, Western Cape

Beach Experience

Chokka Trail, Eastern Cape

Culture & Lifestyle

4Roomed eKasi Culture (Pty) Ltd, Western Cape

Lap of Luxury

Hollywood Mansion Camps Bay, Western Cape

Marine Adventure

Marine Dynamics Tours, Western Cape

Roots & Culture

TAHS-SA (Traditional African Homestays South Africa), Limpopo

Scenic Beauty

Untouched Adventures, Eastern Cape

Wildlife Encounters

Ngwenya Lodge, Mpumalanga

Tour operator

Imonti Tours, Eastern Cape

Universal accessibility

Experience Mobility

Cape Town International Convention Centre, Western Cape

Accommodation Mobility

The Boardwalk Hotel, Convention Centre & Spa, Eastern Cape

Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award: La Teranga Accommodation and Conference Group, KwaZulu-Natal

The new I Do Tourism Award was awarded to: Traditional African Homestays SA, Limpopo.