Earlier this year, South African Tourism invited members of the tourism industry to form part of the 2015 Lilizela Tourism Awards adjudication panel. This invitation was well-received, with the cream of the industry offering to do service on the Lilizela panel of judges, writes Des Langkilde.
Adjudicating the 2015 Lilizela Tourism Award entries is not an easy task. I know this from both current and past experience, having participated as a judge for the 2014 awards in the ‘Service Excellence – Visitor Experience’ category.
The judging process started in May, when 23 (see image below) of the 46 appointed judges gathered at the Protea OR Tambo Hotel on an unusually warm highveld Thursday for an orientation briefing, which was professionally coordinated and chaired by South African Tourism staff (who have asked to remain anonymous). The balance of the judges were briefed individually.
After a round of introductions and signing of nondisclosure agreements (which is hard for a journalist to do, and why no secrets are disclosed here), the convener proceeded to lay down the rules and run through the judging processes and procedures under the watchful eye of auditors from Grant Thornton.
After a laborious process of remote (online) judging in June, my group reconvened at The Lakes Hotel & Conference Centre in July to debate the final scores, from which finalists, provincial winners and national winners were determined.
The final results recognise the best of the best of business owners and service providers who uphold service of excellence in their day to day operations. Launched in 2013, the awards have helped bolster South Africa’s reputation as a destination of excellence and variety across all experiences and accommodation types.
As Thulani Nzima, Chief Executive Officer at South African Tourism says; “The 46 people who have been selected to adjudicate bring gravitas to the Awards. Their role as judges confirms the credibility of the Lilizela Tourism Awards as the premier awards for the tourism industry, and gives us the confidence of knowing every entry will be judged by people whose commitment to excellence in tourism is absolute. The judges also play a pivotal part in ensuring continuous collaboration in the tourism industry. Through the time they give to these awards, they bring the benefit of their experience and expertise to this national quest to find, and acknowledge, that best of the best in our tourism industry. They earn the deep gratitude of South African Tourism and of the larger travel and tourism sector.”
I certainly concur with Thulani, and have to add that the award selection process has been handled with an incredible degree of professionalism and transparency. I look forward to the imminent gala award ceremonies and winner announcements.
The Lilizela Provincial Awards Ceremonies will take place in September, and the Lilizela National Awards on 22 October 2015 in Johannesburg.
The 2015 Lilizela Tourism Awards Judging Panel: