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SA'S TOURISM SHINES BRIGHT AT ANNUAL LILIZELA AWARDS
South Africa's pioneers, innovators, stalwarts and small and medium enterprises in the tourism industry were among the biggest winners on Sunday, 29 October, when the fifth annual Lilizela Tourism Awards shut down the Sandton Convention Centre with an unforgettable night of the stars.

The Lilizela Tourism Awards are an initiative of the National Department of Tourism and are spearheaded by South African Tourism.

Established in 2013, the awards recognise and reward exemplary service among businesses in the local tourism sector, including accommodation establishments and tour operators to scenic attractions and cultural heritage sites. The awards are adjudicated through public votes and by a panel of industry judges and are audited by Grant Thornton.

The national Lilizela Tourism Awards are the culmination of the nine provincial ceremonies held across the country, which reward outstanding establishments in each of those areas. These provincial winners then vied for top honours in the national finals, held on Sunday.

Identified by the Government as one of the six pillars of the country's future economic growth, the Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa, paid special tribute to South Africa's outstanding small tourism businesses.

Some of the SMMEs that were finalists or scooped awards on the night had been beneficiaries of the National Department of Tourism's market access and enterprise development programmes.

"You add diversity and new flavours to our tourism offering and you contribute to social cohesion and empower communities," said Minister Xasa. "You are entrepreneurs who are contributing to our economy, by creating jobs that feed families and nourish communities. You are the living embodiment of the inclusive, transformed economic growth that our country aspires to."

In addition to the awards handed out in a number of categories, Minister Xasa also announced unprecedented multiple recipients of this year's Minister's Award to mark the five-year anniversary of the Lilizela Tourism Awards.

This prestigious award recognises proudly South African organisations or individuals who, through sheer dedication and passion, have excelled in positioning the country as a tourism destination of choice, contributing to the vibrancy and growth of the sector.

Sindiswa Nhlumayo was honoured posthumously for her immense contribution to the tourism industry.

World-renowned Ndebele artist and industrial designer, Esther Mahlangu, was inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame for being an exemplary global ambassador for South Africa's indigenous arts and cultural heritage.

Some of the category winners also included The Workshop ko kasi (Culture and Lifestyle), Baviaanskloof (Scenic Beauty), Soweto By Bike (Roots & Culture), The Gorge Private Lodge and Spa (Best Five-star Game Lodge), and The Oyster Box (Five-Star Hotel Award for Service Excellence).  V Source: Traveller24


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