Lilizela 2015 Finalists Announced

Congratulations to the Lilizela Tourism Award finalists. Their achievement represents recognition from both their clients, and the travel trade at large for their respective commitment to service excellence and innovation, which contributes to growing South Africa’s global destination competitiveness, writes Des Langkilde.

The 2015 Lilizela Tourism Award finalists can be viewed on the official website at

Excluding the Imvelo Award entries, which closes on 14 August, this year’s finalists represent just over one third (34%) of the 934 entries received for the 2015 awards, which reflects the high standards set by the adjudication process.

In terms of the number of entries submitted by province, the Eastern Cape had the most, followed by the Western Cape, with KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng at almost identical numbers.

The number of finalists by province though, reflects the quality of entries, which is what the Lilizela Tourism Awards is all about. In this regard, the Western Cape takes the lead, followed by the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, as shown in the table below.


The overall entry numbers indicate that establishment owners want recognition and reward for offering excellent products and services. Notable this year, is an increase in the number of Small to Micro Enterprises (SMEs) who participated. This is important, as local SMEs are the backbone of South Africa’s tourism industry and constitutes a segment that the Lilizela Tourism Awards aims to help grow and flourish.

However, the gap between the number of entries received and the number of establishments and tourist products that exist in the country, still remains. For the Lilizela Tourism Awards to be truly representative of quality and service excellence in South Africa’s tourism landscape, more tourism products and establishments must enter to be judged.

“South Africa’s weighty standing as a globally competitive tourism destination, is due in part, to the quality of businesses we honour at the Lilizela Tourism Awards and is evidenced by our ever growing awards and accolades,” explains Thulani Nzima, Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism.

“It is because of the South African tourism industry’s work and innate ability to develop and package services in an attractive manner, that South Africa is known locally and globally as a world-class, value for money destination – offering visitors plenty to choose from,” Nzima says.

“Well done to all who entered and have been selected as finalists. We look forward to honouring you at the provincial awards.”

About the Awards

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.

The Lilizela Tourism Awards have been running for three successful years and is 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.

The award process follows four steps, namely; NOMINATING / ENTRY, VOTING, JUDGING and AWARDING.

The travel industry and, more importantly, the consumers of products and services offered by South Africa’s tourism industry, are invited to vote for tourism businesses via the website at 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.

The results recognise the best of the best of business owners and service providers who uphold service of excellence in their day to day operations, and the finalists bolster South Africa’s reputation as a destination of excellence and variety across all experiences and accommodation types.
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.

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 during September and the final national event held in Johannesburg in October.

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