Organisers took a shot left to Empangeni for this year's KwaZulu-Natal leg of the Lilizela Awards to honour the best of the best in service excellence, the award recognises tourism businesses who have made a mark in the country.
The first leg of the Provincial Lilizela Awards kickstarted at the Umfolozi Hotel and Casino in Empangeni last night with some very happy winners. The awards are based on an 80 percent voting process by guests, their TripAdvisor rating and the remaining 20 percent involves a panel of judges.
Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo of South African Tourism said that during Tourism Month their aim was to get locals to travel domestic. "Domestic tourism has the opportunity to grow, especially in a month where we celebrate tourism. Lilizela Awards was launched to recognise the best of the best. This awards has given a platform for tourism businesses to showcase their products and this helps us sell SA in a positive way," she said.
This year's entrances in KwaZulu-Natal rose by 50 percent, she said. The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, said the hosting of the awards outside Durban this year was done to allow other parts of KZN to be showcased.
"While our country has emerged from recession, we know that tourism has always been a backbone for South Africa. As a provincial government we want radical economic transformation even in our tourism sector. KZN has no shortage of tourism success stories, therefore to maintain that standard, service providers in the tourism industry need to be excellent. If guests have a good time, they become ambassadors of our country," he said.
Winners were overwhelmed, some having won their first award. Among the big winners of the night were Karkloof Safari Spa who won the Lap of Luxury category, Midlands Meander in the Scenic Beauty category and Access to Africa Safaris, who took home two of the awards in the Universal Accessibility category.