Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. Picture: Timothy Bernard

Johannesburg - The tourism department has received the top accolade at the 2016 National Batho Pele Excellence Awards (NBPEA) for being the best functioning national department of the year.

The public service and administration department's (DPSA) batho pele excellence awards recognise and promote improved public servants' performance and a professional and productive public service.

“I am very proud of the department and this gold award affirms that our vision and plans to grow the tourism industry is on the right track,” Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said in a statement.

Tourism was among 38 government departments assessed within the best functioning national department category, based on the management performance assessment tool (MPAT) and the auditor general's (AG) report.

The assessment considered areas of strategic planning; finances; operational planning; management and implementation; and the impact of the work done by the department on its beneficiaries and broader society.

“Excellent service is the keystone of the work we do in tourism. It is entrenched in our strategies and our work culture, and it inspires us to continuously work hard to serve our citizens and position our country as one of the top tourist destination in the world,” Hanekom said.

In 2015/16, the department achieved more than 85 percent of its performance targets and also received an unqualified clean audit by the AG.

Tourism director general Victor Tharage received the best director general of the year award. The award recognised exceptional leadership skills and expertise with a proven record of leading transformation and change management in the department. “I am extremely proud of my DG Victor Tharage and this gold award is well deserved.

He is hardworking and humble and his officials have ample confidence in his leadership,” Hanekom said. The awards were launched in 2013 to ensure a professional and productive public service and an improved public servants performance.

The awards promoted sharing best practices, gauging citizen satisfaction towards government performance, and rewarding good performance.

African News Agency (ANA)