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Awards recognise best of NC tourism

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The aim of the awards is to recognise and reward tourism players and businesses

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THE NORTHERN Cape’s premier tourism destinations were recognised and awarded during the annual Northern Cape Provincial Lilizela Awards Ceremony held in Kimberley this week.

The aim of the awards is to recognise and reward tourism players and businesses who work passionately and with pride to deliver a world-class tourism product and service.

The Lilizela Tourism Awards is an initiative to acknowledge, celebrate and encourage an escalated level of quality tourism services offered in the country, thereby enhancing South Africa’s global competitiveness and position the country as a preferred tourist destination.

The awards further celebrate global excellence in tourism focusing on service excellence, emerging tourism entrepreneurship and sustainable tourism development.

The competition is now in its sixth year and the provincial winners announced this week will now became national competitors in their particular category during the national awards ceremony that will be held on November 17 at the Sandton ICC in Johannesburg.

Provincial events are held during Tourism Month (September) .

Delivering the keynote address at the Northern Cape awards, the MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mac Jack, stated that the awards commended the industry’s leaders in service excellence and recognised shining examples of tourism businesses in the Province.

“By now, all tourism sector stakeholders should be aware that these awards recognise and reward tourism players and businesses who work passionately and with pride to deliver a world-class product and service. Through their hard work, determination and courage they put our Province on the domestic and international tourism radar and ensure that we become a destination of choice,” Jack said.

The MEC, however, added that South Africa was currently “experiencing difficult economic times”, with Statistics SA announcing that the country is in a technical economic recession.

“It is without a doubt that we are all affected by escalating fuel prices and, obviously, the tourism industry is not spared. Service excellence has thus become more important to ensure that our Province has a competitive edge over our competitors and all sector stakeholders are actually compelled to embrace it as a performance differentiator to enhance extended and repeated customer visitation. All of us within the tourism sector in this Province should work towards making the visitor experience outstanding.”

Jack further raised concern about what he dubbed “one of the main challenges in the tourism sector in the country and in our Province”, namely the very slow pace of transformation.

“It is not by accident that this event is hosted tonight at an establishment (the Batsumi Luxury Guest House in Galeshewe) which was supported by the department. It was deliberately planned as such, because government needs to lead the campaign to get the sector and industry transformed by pushing the township tourism agenda, without fear or favour.

“However, it has come to my attention that most of our tourism establishments in the township are failing to keep their heads above water because departments are failing to pay them on time. It is important to adhere to the new policy of government of paying our SMMEs within a 30-day period, otherwise we will kill them even before they can even start,” Jack said.

He added that the department needed to see “much better racial and gender representation” at future service excellence awards events.

“My department is committed to continuously initiate and render support programmes to broaden the desired representation. To see that happening, we have invited applications for tourism grants last month and I therefore urge our prospective tourism entrepreneurs to apply for these grants which cater for Tourism Enterprise Development and Tourism Festivals and Events respectively. It is important that the R2 million allocation for each category be spread evenly across all the districts. I really hope that such windows of opportunity will be exploited by our target designated groups to become part of the tourism sector and industry, especially our prospective tourism entrepreneurs who are unable to offer collateral to financial institutions to start or expand their businesses,” Jack concluded.

The winners were announced as follows:

Action and Adventure: Gravity Adventures Northern Cape

Bed and Breakfast: Brown’s Manor and Classic Court B&B and Villa

Country House: Holkrans Guest Lodge

Culture and Lifestyle: The Workshop Ko Kasi

Game Lodge: Mattanu Private Game Reserve

Guest House: Oleander Guest House and African Vineyard Guesthouse

Hotel: Kimberley Anne Small Luxury Hotel, Garden Court Kimberley and Road Lodge Kimberley.

Meetings, Exhibitions and Special Events (MESE): Naba Lodge Conference Facility

Roots and Culture: The Big Hole

Self Catering Exclusive: Rhino Manor