The 2014 Lilizela Tourism Awards provincial and national winners were announced at glittering ceremonies across South Africa during Tourism Month in September (Free State and Gauteng in October). Tourism Tattler attended the National awards ceremony held at the Lyric Theatre in Gold Reef City in Gauteng. Des Langkilde reports on this prestigious national recognition initiative.
Lilizela is an Nguni word, which means to ululate: a uniquely African act of congratulating work well done. Lilizela is a name that truly distinguishes this uniquely South African award.
Participating in this years ‘Visitor Experience’ category judging panel for the 2014 Lilizela Tourism Awards has been an eye opener for me.
One seldom gives thought to the effort and logistics involved behind the scenes in putting together an annual industry award, specifically one which aims to recognise and reward the diversity of tourism players and businesses who work passionately and with pride to deliver world-class products and services, and whose delivery grows South Africa’s global destination competitiveness.
The Lilizela Tourism Awards have been running for two successful years and are the new premier awards in South Africa. They are an initiative of the National Department of Tourism (NDT) and delivered by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA). The award winners are selected based on the feedback provided by guests, TripAdvisor guest reviews and through the deliberation of a panel of judges.
In my opinion, the organisers and hosts of the Lilizela Tourism Awards – including each provisional tourism authority – can be justifiably proud of their collective efforts in terms of transparency, fairness in the adjudication process and organisation of the award ceremony events, which are akin to the film industry’s Oscar Awards, with regional award ceremonies convened in each of South Africa’s nine provinces and the final national event held in Johannesburg.
The award process follows four steps, namely; NOMINATING / ENTRY, VOTING, JUDGING and AWARDING.
The travel industry and, more importantly, the consumer of products and services offered by South Africa’s tourism industry, are invited to vote for tourism businesses via the website at www.lilizela.co.za. Note that only tourist guides are nominated, everyone else enters.
Entries are made under 4 Focus Areas reflecting 8 Categories with the 9th Category being the Minister’s Award.
1. Service Excellence
This Focus Area has three Categories, and how well tourism products do in this area is, to a large degree, based on guest feedback. The Accommodation sector was the only one recognised during the first year of the awards. For 2014 (and onward), Visitor Experience of the Year as well as the Tourist Guide of the Year have been added and recognised. Visitor Experiences include Scenic Beauty, Roots and Culture, Adventure and Activities, Wildlife, Lifestyle, Beach Experience and Lap of Luxury. Tourist Guides include Nature Guides, Adventure Guides and Culture Guides.
The ETEYA Lilizela Award (Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award) recognises black owned SMME’s who have achieved notable success since starting up.
3. Sustainable Development
This focus area includes three categories – Imvelo, Universal Accessibility as well as BBB-EE. The Imvelo Awards include: Best Social Involvement Programme, Best Practice Economic Impact, Best Overall Environment Management System and Best Single-Resource Programme (Water, Energy and Waste).
To achieve transformation in the tourism sector and to encourage enterprises to view B-BBEE as a business imperative, a part of good corporate citizenship and good governance and as a contribution towards socio-economic cohesion, the BBEE Award recognises Exempted Micro Enterprises, Qualifying Small Enterprises as well as Large Enterprises.
The Minister’s AwardThis esteemed award recognises outstanding, unique, impactful people, events, and organisations that have performed in a manner that urges the industry closer to tourism’s 2020 vision (to grow arrivals to 15 million and create 225 000 new jobs by 2020 with a total direct and indirect GDP contribution target from R189, 4 billion (2009) to R499 billion (2020).
The 2014 Minister’s Award was presented by the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom to Mr. Mavuso Msimang, who is currently the CEO of the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation and also sits on several company boards, for corporate and non-governmental organizations.
During his illustrious career, he has been called upon to work in fields of discipline ranging from international development through tourism, conservation and information technology. He has also been extensively involved in the transformation and restructuring of state-owned entities, namely SA Tourism, South African National Parks (SANParks), the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) as well as the Department of Home Affairs. He also set up the Tourism KZN provincial organisation, which he briefly led as its CEO.
Each South African provincial tourism authority also presented their own regional Minister’s Award. In KwaZulu-Natal, the KZN MEC Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mike Mabuyakhulu recognised Babo Hadebe, the owner of Olwandle Guesthouse & Suite Hotels with an award.
Critical considerations for establishment owners to remember:
You can enter your establishment in up to 6 different categories and not just one – this means that a Guest House, for example, can enter in the Accommodation Category, the Visitor Experience Category, the B-BBEE Category, the ETEYA Category, and the Universal Accessibility Category as well as in the Imvelo Category. This gives you 6 chances to win with the Lilizela Tourism Awards.
Once you have entered, you are allocated a username and password to access the Online Toolkit which you can use to encourage all your guests to vote for your establishment. This includes e-mail signatures, online banners, etc. You will also receive a unique QR code which you can immediately print and ensure that it is displayed prominently for your guests to scan and cast their vote.
You can also send all your guests a ‘’Thank you for staying with us’’ e-mail or phone text message with a link to the voting platform on the Lilizela website for the guest to indicate how happy they were with the experience.
As Mr Thulani Nzima, Chief Executive Officer at South African Tourism says; “It is important for people to remember that entries for the awards are free, but businesses need to comply with certain requirements before their application will be accepted. We encourage everyone to visit the official website to get all the information they need and to watch out for the announcement of critical dates.”
This year’s Lilizela Tourism Awards experienced a growth of 854% in the number of votes received from 2013 to 2014 (784 vs. 7 480), which highlights the importance of consumer reviews. In addition, visitors to the Lilizela Tourism Awards website spent an average of six minutes compared to the two minutes they spent last year. This indicates that the two-year old brand is gaining traction among consumers.
Audit Company, Grant Thornton were appointed as independent Auditors of the 2014 Lilizela Tourism Awards programme. The entire process was scrutinized thoroughly by the auditors. This included the entries, the voting and consumer reviews, as well as the final adjudication that produced both Provincial and National Finalists and Winners. The 2014 Lilizela Tourism Awards programme received a clean audit for all the Award Categories that were audited.
Why you should enter the 2015 Lilizela Tourism Awards.
The Lilizela Tourism Awards give you an opportunity – and a brilliant opportunity at that – to celebrate excellence, creativity and innovation, and provides national recognition to raise your establishments profile both in South Africa and around the world. The award will bring you and your business great publicity and profiling on a number of platforms.
Entries for the 2015 awards close off in May, so enter now at www.lilizela.co.za
For more information visit www.lilizela.co.za