The 2019 Lilizela Tourism Awards promise to be the most exciting yet as the calibre of the competitors is the highest in the illustrious seven-year history of the event.

This was amongst the key announcements made at the Lilizela Tourism Awards media launch held at the Sun International Time Square Arena and the Maslow Hotel in Pretoria on August 14.

Over a thousand entries were received, with very little separating the contenders, indicating the high calibre of entrants within the sector.

The awards give hospitality and tourism businesses the chance to compete against each other and gauge how they fare against similar businesses in the industry.

According to Darryl Erasmus, the Tourism Grading Council’s Chief Quality Assurance Officer, the awards present graded partners and service providers with the opportunity to gain the exposure they deserve. “It is not compulsory to grade accommodation and venue establishments in South Africa yet we are blessed to have well over 5 000 graded entities around the country! The Lilizela Tourism Awards is our opportunity to recognise and celebrate the individuals and businesses who make South Africa the amazing destination it is.”

He added: “Many operators want to know how they are doing compared with others who operate in similar categories. People also like to be recognised. People thrive on competition and these awards give products the opportunity to measure up against their competitors and learn from each other.  The destination benefits!”

Before the national Lilizela Tourism Awards takes place at the Sun Arena, Pretoria, on November 9, its provincial legs will move through the country in September. The dates are as follows:

•             Northern Cape - September 5

•             Mpumalanga - September 6

•             Western Cape - September13

•             Free State - September 13

•             Limpopo - September 17

•             Eastern Cape - September 19

•             Gauteng - September 19

•             North West - September 25

•             KwaZulu-Natal - September26

South African hospitality outdoes most of the world

In Erasmus’s experience, South Africa’s hospitality standards are far ahead of many other global destinations that he has visited. “South Africa is really fortunate to have owners and operators that ensure the foot we put forward is the best one. We outperform many destinations by far in terms of quality offerings. And we can attribute it to the long-standing partnerships with our members and the industry at large.”

Judge for the Lilizela Tourism Awards ETEYA category, Rebecca Kambule, said she would be looking for attention to detail and a brand that could compete with anyone internationally. “We look for excellence, the best of the best in the industry. You have to deliver the services to the best of your abilities, superseding everyone.”

Kambule said the calibre of entries had increased, with the competition getting tougher as more businesses were starting to the see the value of the awards.