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8 May 2011

Exceptional 2011 tourism performers recognised again at Welcome Awards

Welcome Awards honours top tourism performers at gala ceremony in Durban

Song and dance at the Welcome Awards 2011

I would like to congratulate the Welcome Awards winners and finalists and commend them for their extraordinary efforts in continuing to raise the bar in service excellence in the tourism industry.

The year’s most exceptional performers in the tourism industry were crowned at INDABA 2011 tonight at the 2011 Welcome Awards held at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

Established in 2005, the awards recognise and promote service excellence and innovation in the local tourism industry and have grown considerably over the years, with a total of 2,924 entries received for the 2011 awards - compared to 1,406 entries last year.   

The overall winners across the nine categories were selected for their consistency in delivering customer experiences that capture the warm South African welcome and service excellence standards that embody South Africa’s unique offering to local and international travellers.

At a glitzy, fun-filled awards evening moderated by former Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss, the winners were announced as:

1.    Accommodation: The Cape Milner Hotel

The award winning boutique hotel lies cradled beneath the majestic Table Mountain and is best known for its excellent service, a chic atmosphere and stunning interior décor.

2.    Car Rental: Economic Car and Bakkie Hire

Economic Car Hire has been providing a solution to the Eastern Cape travel requirements for the past 20 years. This car hire company provides a range of vehicles to suit the needs of visiting businessmen and touring families alike.

3.    Meetings, Exhibitions and Special Events: The Plantation

Nestled in Port Elizabeth’s indigenous coastal milkwood forest, The Plantation offers the perfect setting for weddings, corporate and private functions, conferences and a relaxing country retreat.  Situated in Lovemore Park, The Plantation is within 5 minutes from the Port Elizabeth (PE) International Airport and 10 minutes from PE’s city centre.

4.    Restaurants: Hemingways Restaurant at Leriba Hotel and Spa

Hemingways Restaurant and Wine Cellar in Centurion, Pretoria is tastefully decorated in French style with understated minimalistic elegance. The carefully selected wine collection offers a wide range of tastes and flavours, representing most of the wine regions in South Africa.

5.    Tour Operators: Western Cape Tours

Western Cape Tours offers scheduled and personalised tours for small groups. You can travel in style by choosing from a selection of budget or luxury vehicles, you can even rent a Harley Davidson from Western Cape Tours.

6.    Tourist Attractions: SAB World of Beer

The SAB World of Beer ranks as one of South Africa’s top tourist experiences, offering nearly 50 000 visitors a year a uniquely memorable encounter with the magic of beer and brewing.

7.    Tourist Guides: Greg Lederle

Greg Lederle, from Molori Safari Lodge in the Madikwe Game reserve in South Africa, has become top choice for a string of A-list safari fans, both locally and internationally.  Responsible for managing the lodge, Lederle’s hands-on approach has seen him rise to the top of service excellence standards.

8.    Travel Agencies: Sure Zorgvliet Travel

The combined travel experience of the specialist consultants at Sure Zorgvliet Travel guarantees service excellence for business and leisure travellers alike. Innovative technology and streamlined systems are utilized to the benefit of travellers, making it possible to provide up to date information and quick access to bookings, airline reservations, and all travel related services.

9.    Best Tourism Website (online): Sandton Sun Hotel

Elegant and legendary, the Sandton Sun offers guests a distinguished and memorable stay. Linked to the Sandton Convention Centre and the Sandton City Shopping Centre, this hotel combines business services, contemporary dining and fashionable shopping, appealing to both leisure and business travellers.

Deputy Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa, joined a festive crowd in celebrating the achievements of the Welcome Awards winners and finalists.

“I am delighted to see that these awards are drawing more and more interest each year from such diverse sectors of the tourism sector. It means we as an industry are creating a culture of exceptional performance and benchmarking ourselves against top international standards we can all measure ourselves against. I would like to congratulate the Welcome Awards winners and finalists and commend them for their extraordinary efforts in continuing to raise the bar in service excellence in the tourism industry,” said Deputy Minister Tokozile Xasa.

The Welcome Awards not only recognise and promote excellence in the local tourism industry, but identify innovations in the sector and encourage stakeholders to share their challenges, experiences and successes.  This year’s event was no different, exceeding previous entry numbers and cementing the Welcome Awards as the definitive honour for South African tourism businesses who have proven to deliver consistent, excellent and welcoming service to both local and international visitors.

South African Tourism CEO, Thandiwe January-McLean, said the Welcome Awards were critical in promoting a culture of service excellence within the tourism sector.

“Our country’s reputation as a world-class destination is dependent not only on our tourism attractions, but on the quality of the service we provide the local and international traveller. The winners and finalists of the Welcome Awards are the cream of the crop of our industry this year and we commend them for their efforts. Our people and their interaction with tourists is the differentiating factor of what sets South Africa apart, with the role of all stakeholders in the tourism industry critical to that success,” said Ms January-McLean.

With ambitious tourism targets outlined in the National Department’s National Tourism Sector Strategy, the continued collaboration between private and public sector stakeholders in ensuring service excellence and sustained tourism growth is critical.

To this end, First National Bank have again been valued sponsors this year of the Welcome Awards, which from next year will move from being under the auspices of South African Tourism to that of the National Department of Tourism.

“The Welcome Awards has always been an excellent opportunity to make a tangible connection with FNB’s commitment to the tourism service and hospitality industry in South Africa,” said Mr Pieter de Bruin, Head of Tourism: FNB Commercial. “The awards not only recognise service excellence in the tourism and hospitality industry, but the success stories we see each year are inspirational to all industries. Welcome is the catalyst to get South Africans talking about and embracing service excellence as a way of life,” De Bruin added.

In addition to the nine winners listed, Sub-Category winners also recognised at the ceremony include:

Accomodation:

·       Self Catering: Montvue Self Catering

·       Lodges: Mount Sheba Forever Resport

·       Bed & Breakfast / guesthouses / country house: 138 Marine Beachfront Guesthouse

·       Backpackers & Hostelling/caravan and camping sites: Forever Resorts, Plettenberg

MESE:

·       Exhibitions and special Events venues: CSIR International Convention Centre

Restuarants:

·       Casual Dining: Thunder Ridge Spur

Tour Operators

·       Operating more than five years: Thompsons Africa

Tourist Guides

·       Regional, local or site: Ann Evans

·       Provincial: Donald Modiboa

 

ENDS.

 

Issued by South African Tourism and the National Department of Tourism.

 

For further information contact

Jermaine Craig at SA Tourism                                                 Neo Phele at Kezi Communications
Tel: +27 11 895 3000                                                            Tel: +27 11 334 2493           

Email: jermaine@southafrica.net                                            Email: neo@kezi.co.za

Website: www.southafrica.net/welcomewards.