Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane yesterday honored top tourism products and achievers in the tourism sector in Gauteng at a glittering gala evening held at Gold Reef City in Joburg.
The evening which also kick-started the provincial tourism month programme saw top provincial government leaders, tourism stakeholders and members of the media under one roof celebrating and appreciating the value and contribution of all in the sector that have made quality service and excellence in the sector their business.
Speaking at the ceremony, Gauteng Premier urged all the role-players in the tourism sector in the province to raise the bar in delivering quality top notch service and experience. “Tourism is a fiercely competitive business. We not only compete with other businesses, cities, regions and provinces, but with all the other demands for consumers’ discretionary spend. The environment for tourism is changing and, to grow and prosper we will need to lift the bar in the delivery of service and standards. This is imperative if Gauteng wants to keep ahead of its competitors”, explained the Premier.
The provincial chapter of the inaugural Lilizela Tourism Awards recognized tourism businesses, individuals and tourism experiences that continue to provide quality and excellent service in the province and further served as the official ceremony announcing the provincial nominees for the National Lilizela Tourism Awards also scheduled to be held in Gauteng this month.
The Lilizela Tourism Awards were launched by National Tourism Minister, Mr. Marthinus van Schalkwyk, at INDABA 2013 in May and aim to identify and reward tourism businesses who work passionately and with pride to help enhance South Africa’s global destination competitiveness. They are an initiative of the National Department of Tourism (NDT) and managed and delivered by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA), the only official and formal quality assurance body and a business unit of South African Tourism.
The gala awards ceremony was also attended by the new Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Mr Mxolisi Xayiya, Gauteng Transport MEC Ishmael Vadi and a delegation from Chongqing region in China. Premier Mokonyane used the evening to pay tribute to the late Gauteng MEC Nkosiphedule Kolisile who was instrumental in the organising and presentation of these awards before his untimely death.
“We are today unveiling the special Tourism Award category which will form part of the provincial chapter of the Lilizela Tourism Awards moving forward. This special category is aimed to recognise special tourism products, individuals and a collection of attract brands called the Gauteng Signature Collection outside the Lilizela Awards categories. “This we believe will add impetus to our efforts of making Gauteng a visitor focused destination of choice”, concluded Premier Mokonyane.
“I extend hearty congratulations to the provincial finalists for the Lilizela National Tourism Awards and further express my delight with the winners of the first ever Gauteng Special Tourism Awards category for coming this far. Their standards of excellence and the relentless effort they have ploughed into their businesses, has ensured that destination Gauteng remains a major player in our country’s tourism sector,” says Thembi Kunene, interim Chairperson of the Lilizela Tourism Awards and CEO of Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. “We now look forward to honouring the national winners at the first ever national awards ceremony on 12th September,” she says.
Among those who scooped awards on the night includes Jojo Tsheola from Tsheola Dinare Tours for Tourism Entrepreneur of the year, Kgomotso Pooe, a true dreamer from Soweto Outdoor Adventures for the aspiring Youth in Tourism category, Ms Bronwyn Cadle de Ponte from Tshwane Tourism Association and CSIR for the aspiring Women in Tourism and a posthumous awarding of the late Mr Jimmy “face to face” Ntintile for an outstanding contribution by an individual in Gauteng Tourism sector.
Top Gauteng attractions like Lilieslief, Constitutional Hill, Apartheid Museum, Voortrekker Monument, Maboneng Precinct and various neighbourhood zones across the region also received their formal recognition and acceptance into the Signature Collection realm.