At a media briefing yesterday it was revealed the 2019 awards would be taking place towards the end of the year at the Sun Arena.
The awards, an initiative of the national Department of Tourism and spearheaded by SA Tourism, have been taking place every year since 2012.
The awards are a platform recognising and rewarding individuals and businesses that promote South Africa as a must-visit tourist destination.
The local travel industry’s best products, experiences and people are as per usual to be judged by a panel of experts from all over the industry.
One of last year’s winners, Bheki Dube, founder and chief executive of Curiosity Hostels, said having entered the competition for five years in a row, finally winning was still an overwhelming experience that helped catapult his growth as a businessman.
With establishments offering an authentic backpacking experience, Dube said his Durban site won Best Four-star Backpackers in the provincial category. His Johannesburg branch also made its way through as a strong contender in the provincials and even the nationals.
“For us getting that award gives one that reassurance that establishments like ours are doing something right. It also sends out the message that we are the pioneers within the hostelling sector.
“And it doesn’t benefit you alone but it gives your team and staff a boost of confidence that they are doing hospitality the right way.”
Dube encouraged small businesses to enter the competition as it would give them much more than just an award, but an opportunity to get distributed to a host of roadshows such as the tourism indaba, meetings to sell their products or services; while also above and beyond that offering entrepreneurs an opportunity to travel to international markets and speed marketing workshops.
Darryl Erasmus, chief quality assurance officer for the Tourism Grading Council of SA, said this year’s awards had been altered slightly due to changes in the grading system.
He said the changes to the awards were implemented after being approved by the Minister of Tourism in November.
The addition of small hotels, apartment hotels and boutique hotels as categories had been made.
Erasmus said they had also increased the grading levels and instead of one to five stars, they would now be adding on the five-star premium grade, to be reserved for only the epitome of luxury in South Africa.
The meetings, exhibitions and special events centres are now to be changed to venues and there will be elaborations on different kinds of venues, be it exhibitions, convention centres, in-hotel conference facilities, historical venues, function venue and just an events venue.
“So we’re glad that recently the Sun Arena has graded itself as an events venue and also managed to achieve the five-star grading level. And as a result of that and recognising that we will be holding the awards later on this year at this very venue,” said Erasmus.
“These awards were put in place to recognise industry efforts as those who have been around this business know it’s a tough industry and we often deal with difficult customers. So the Lilizelas are is a way of ensuring that those efforts do not go unrewarded or unrecognised.”