FORTY-nine first, second and third place big and small winners from all over South Africa as well as Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe were announced in eight categories in the first annual National Department of Tourism and Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) Lilizela-Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism ceremony last night in Pretoria.
This year saw the incorporation of the Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism, which have been in the custodianship of FEDHASA since inception in 2001 (at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg), into the new National Department of Tourism’ Lilizela Awards, designed to inspire excellence in the tourism industry, to form the Lilizela-Imvelo Awards.
Caleb Mabaso, FEDHASA’s Head of Strategic Projects, comments: “Every year the quality and intensity of the entries gets higher and higher – and this year also saw a record number of 406 category entries from 148 establishments – which is an indication that industry is embracing the Lilizela-Imvelo Awards as the premier benchmark of best practices in sustainable tourism. We were amazed and impressed at how much effort the entrants put into telling us their stories and we believe that this is because the industry is recognising the significant value that being a finalist in these awards brings to their businesses.”
Mabaso explained the creation of big and small sub-categories, which he says has enhanced the credibility of the awards. “There will always be a perceived bias towards big business because there is a greater likelihood of bigger budgets being allocated towards sustainable tourism. This should take no credit away from large establishments as there are many of the same size
and budget who choose not to embrace sustainable tourism. However, an institution without access to big budgets but whose heart is in the right place with regard to sustainable tourism should be competing against establishments of a similar circumstance. The creation of categories that allow entrants to compete against like-sized businesses sends the message
that, large or small, there will be no discrimination.”
The panel of judges was selected for its utmost credibility and independence. Says Eddy Khosa, chairman of FEDHASA, “FEDHASA made a conscious decision that the judges for the Lilizela-Imvelo Awards should be an independent body. We appointed an independent ‘chief justice’ in the form of Lorraine Jenks and gave her the power to look at the judging process and
to give input. The experts that were brought onto the panel had no vested interest in the outcome and the judging process proved to be very robust.
Criteria were laid out and the same template was used by the 12 judges to assess the entries. Their role was to review best practice in the tourism industry and they did so with unwavering professionalism and lack of bias.”
Chief justice Lorraine Jenks from Hotelstuff/Greenstuff said that watching the judges debating and defending their selections for hours was proof of the high calibre of entries this year.
The winner of the big Most Empowered Tourism Business was Garden Court Hatfield in Pretoria, with Zambezi Queen on the great Chobe River coming in second is Red Carnation Hotel Collection from the Western Cape. The small business winner in this category was Protea Hotel Bloemfontein Central. This category represents the processes of transformation that establishments
undergo to create a more competitive industry – embracing previously marginalised participants. Entrants needed to demonstrate their contribution to issues of empowerment and also to a globally competitive, demographically representative tourism industry.
The big Best Overall Environmental Management System first prize was shared by Leriba Hotel & Spa of Gauteng and the Cape Town International Convention Centre ; the second prize was shared by Sandton Sun and Intercontinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers; and third place went to Protea Hotel Umhlanga Ridge in KwaZulu-Natal. The small Best Overall Environmental Management System first prize went to T&T Bed & Breakfast in Durban’s Westville (KwaZulu-Natal), second prize to La Fontaine Guest House in the Western Cape and third prize to Garden Court Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal.
The big establishment with the Best Social Involvement Programme was Turtle Bay Beach Club of Kenya; second place went to Sun International Zambia and third place to Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa in the Eastern Cape. The small winner first prize was shared between Gorges Lodge and Bomani Tented Lodge, both in Zimbabwe. Second place went to Prana Lodge Private Beach Estate and Spa in the Eastern Cape and third place to The Angel’s Place Boutique Hotel in Gauteng.
The Best Practice – Economic Impact award for big establishments went to Riverside Sun Resort in Gauteng, with Sun International Zambia coming in second and Zambezi Queen coming in third. Special Judges Recommendations in this category were awarded to Platter Golf in the Western Cape and Garden Court South Beach in KwaZulu-Natal. In small establishments, Georges Lodge came in first, Makgabeng Farm Lodge in Limpopo came in second, and Rivera on Vaal Hotel and Country Club in Gauteng came in third.
The big Best Single Resource Management Programme – Water first prize went to V&A Waterfront in the Western Cape, second prize to ATKV Natalia in KwaZulu-Natal and third prize to Riverside Sun Resort in Gauteng. First prize for the small establishment section in this category went to Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco Lodge in Gauteng, second prize to Tshulu Trust in Limpopo, and third prize to Southern Sun Bloemfontein in the Free State.
The big Best Single Resource Management Programme – Energy first prize winner was again V&A Waterfront, with Emperors Palace Casino in Gauteng coming in second, and Courtyard Hotel Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape coming in third. The small establishment winners in this category were Three Trees At Spioenkop in KwaZulu-Natal in first place, Southern Sun Bloemfontein in second place, and Southern Sun Newlands in Western Cape in third place.
The big establishment winner in the Best Single Resource Management Programme – Waste category was CSIR International Convention Centre in Gauteng, with V&A Waterfront coming in second and Hilton Cape Town City Centre in the Western Cape coming in third. The small establishment winner was Edge of Africa in the Eastern Cape, second place went to Nirabritz
Nature Guide & Tours in the Western Cape and third place to Midlands Saddle & Trout Resort Share Block in KwaZulu-Natal.
Entrants in the Investing in People category needed to give evidence of best practice training, education and development of individuals in tourism to show the practical steps taken to develop the people in their businesses.
The big establishment winner in this category was Garden Court Hatfield, with Magalies Park in North West winning second prize, and Riverside Sun Resort winning third prize. The small establishment winner was Garden Court Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal; second place went to Garden Court Polokwane in Limpopo; and third place to Garden Court Eastgate in Gauteng.
Mabaso says these Lilizela-Imvelo awards are adding significant value to tourism businesses. “Travelling decisions are made on the basis of many sensible considerations – among which are best practices. Sustainable tourism has become very much a business issue and we are finding that travellers are becoming increasingly discerning and they want to know that
tourism businesses are doing good things. International travellers are sophisticated travellers and one of the competitive advantages a tourismbusiness can showcase is the fact that they have adopted responsible tourism practices.”
The judging panel with the daunting task of choosing the finalists and winners was headed by Lorraine Jenks, consultant in the environmental and conservation tourism industry. Other panellists included Allison MacDonald, global account director with Ireland-Davenport; Erwin van der Weerd, CEO of Perfect Places; Jeunesse Park of Food and Trees for Africa; Kinesh Chetty,
CEO of Greener Future; Rosy Mogotsi, deputy director of Domestic Tourism with the Department of Tourism; Busisiwe Tshabalala of the Department of Water Affairs; Sibusiso Tshabalala, acting manager for Residential Municipality Sector & Integrated Demand Management Department at Eskom; Christine Engelbrecht, head of Tourism Strategic Business Units with the IDC; Paula Bester, manager of Finance and Administration with TEP; Faith Zwane, Tourism and Travel Services Chamber coordinator with Cathsseta; Steven Zwane, head of Africa Employability Programme, Absa; and Tshidi Mkhosana, GM, FEDHASA Inland. All are specialists in driving sustainable and responsible tourism.
Fedhasa’s key partners in the Lilizela-Imvelo Awards include the National Department of Tourism, Eskom, Department of Water Affairs, Absa, and the Industrial Development Corporation.
Khosa congratulated the winners, saying, “You are indeed worthy recipients of these awards, having been through a rigorous independently-adjudicated judging process. To the many finalists whose entries did not win an award, I would like to assure you that your establishments are nonetheless exceptional examples of sustainable tourism in action. We thank you for your
efforts and urge you to take advantage of the new opportunities we will be launching to become involved in the Imvelo programme through the provincial entries.”