This year’s KwaZulu-Natal Lilizela Tourism Awards at the Premier Resort Sani Pass was a celebration of the province's finest tourism establishments and individuals.
The annual provincial was based on an 80 percent voting process by guests, their TripAdvisor rating and the remaining 20 percent decided by a panel of judges.
Among the night’s winners were Kwalala Lodge for 4-star bed and breakfast and Midlands Meander for scenic beauty.
Continuing on their winning streak was The Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga who won best 5-star hotel and Ushaka Marine World for best Marine Adventure.
The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, said the Lilizela Awards were a practical way to show appreciation to the people and businesses that contribute in making South Africa the best tourism destination in the world.
He said there were a total of 1385 entries in various categories in the Lilizela Awards in KZN.
“Winning the country’s premier tourism award does not only set a business apart, but it also encourages others to strive for the coveted top honour.
“Nothing compares to the joy and satisfaction of displaying a Lilizela Award plaque in your reception or entrance hall,” he said.
Zikalaka described the tourism industry as “highly competitive” and said, “success does not happen overnight”.
He said: “It takes hard work and devotion to make every tourist’s visit memorable.
“It takes product innovation and service excellence to ensure that each visitor returns home as word-of-mouth ambassadors and mobile billboards for KZN.”
The Chairperson of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Sthembiso Madlala, said the awards had a positive impact on the province.
“The ultimate aim for the Lilizela Awards is not about making it a territorial thing. It is about exchanging ideas and new technology and other things that can be attractive to international and local tourists,” he said.
Madlala has urged tourism businesses to enter the awards next year.
“Visitors want original experiences and emerging businesses have an opportunity to showcase their offerings,” he said.
One of the winners, Siphokazi Thiam, the owner of La Teranga Accommodation and Conference Group in Kokstad won the Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
They first won the award in 2016.
“We are extremely excited about this award and will continue our best to make a change within our community,” she said.
The National Awards will take place on November 17 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Gauteng.
Here is the complete list of the winners:
Action and adventure: Itchyfeet SA.
3-star Backpacking and Hosteling: Happy Hippo Accommodation.
4-star Backpacking & Hosteling: Curiocity Durban.
3-star Bed & Breakfast: Azelia B&B.
4-star Bed & Breakfast: Kwalala Lodge.
5-star Bed & Breakfast: Westville B&B.
2-star Caravan & Camping: Mahai Caravan Park Royal Natal.
3-star Caravan & Camping: ATKV Drakensville Holiday Resort.
4-star Caravan & Camping: ATKV Natalia Beach Resort.
3-star Country House: Hawklee Country House.
4-star Country House: Silver Hill Lodge.
Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award: La Teranga Accommodation and Conference Group.
3-star Game Lodge: Hilltop Resort Lodge.
4-star Game Lodge: Thula Thula Private Game Lodge.
5-star Game Lodge: Amakhosi Safari Lodge (Pty) Ltd
3-star Guest House: Gecko Inn.
4-star Guest House: Casa di Cattleya Guest House.
5-star Guest House: Forest Manor Boutique Guest House.
1-star Hotel: Road Lodge, Pietermaritzburg.
3-star Hotel: Umthunzi Hotel and Conference.
4-star Hotel: Ghost Mountain Inn.
5 -star Hotel: The Oyster Box Hotel.
3-star Lodge: Tembe Elephant Park & Lodge.
4-star Lodge: Makakatana Bay Lodge.
5 -star Lodge: The Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa.
Marine Adventure: uShaka Marine World.
Roots & Culture: Talana Museum.
Scenic Beauty: Midlands Meander.
2-star Self-catering exclusive: Nselweni Bush Lodge.
3-star Self-catering exclusive: Beverley Country Cottages.
4-star Self-catering exclusive: Rockwood Lodges.
Tour Operators: Bonana Tours.