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JOHANNESBURG: The provincial legs of the 2017 Lilizela Tourism Awards wrapped up at the end of September with the crowning of dozens of esteemed tourism products and services in the country’s nine provinces in categories such as visitor experience, tour operators and tour guides, accommodation and entrepreneurship.

It is now all systems go for fifth edition of the national Lilizela Tourism Awards ceremony which will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 29 October 2017, organised by South African Tourism. The National Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa, will lead the toast to service excellence while honouring the “best of the best” among business owners, contractors and professionals working in the South African tourism and hospitality industry. 

“Not only do all these incredible industry leaders do a sterling job in contributing towards making South Africa a competitive tourism destination, they also contribute to the We Do Tourism initiative, which is an inspiring movement that encourages all South Africans to actively play a role in tourism,” says Minister Xasa.

Over 500 finalists were selected nationwide from more than 1 600 entries, after which provincial winners in the various categories were named to compete in the national finals. Of the total vote, 80% came from members of the public as well as travel platforms such as TripAdvisor and TGCSA’s Tourism Analytics Programme. The remaining 20% was a score from a panel of high-level judges, whose voting was conducted under the strict supervision of Grant Thornton to ensure compliance.

“Based upon the work performed and the results obtained, we can conclude that the judging process of the 2017 Lilizela Tourism Awards was fair and transparent,” confirmed Oupa Mbokodo, Director at Grant Thornton.

One of the most exciting categories of Lilizela Tourism Awards is the Emerging Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (EYETA), which seeks to recognise and motivate black entrepreneurs who operate small, micro and medium tourism- or hospitality-related businesses.

Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa, explains the significance of this category tailored specifically for SMMEs: “South African Tourism is committed to partnering with established players in the industry to help achieve inclusive growth while aiding new players to grow.

“The significance of transforming the tourism industry cannot be understated, as it has huge potential to become a meaningful job creator for our people and a revenue generator for our economy. It is also vital for South Africa to keep innovating and refreshing our tourism offering, to remain globally competitive. EYETA helps motivate and incentivise outstanding tourism start-ups to continue on their path of achievement and excellence.”

Here are some of the hidden gems that captured judges and members of the voting public alike to win the EYETA category in the provincial leg of the Lilizela Tourism Awards. Many of them were featured at Africa’s Travel Indaba in May:

The Workshop ko Kasi, Northern Cape

Ecotourism in the township at its best - that is what is in store for guests at The Workshop ko Kasi, in Kuruman. Built from recycled and natural materials such as pallets, soil, stones, rocks, grass and old tyres, this township café promises the best of local flavours. The venue also offers an African spa, cultural tours on donkey carts, and occasional events such as pop-up markets, poetry and storytelling sessions. An authentic, raw African township experience is what awaits visitors at The Workshop ko Kasi. For more information, contact Mpho Cornelius on 081 289 2662.

Mthombo’s Place, Eastern Cape

Experience Mdantsane's finest luxury lounge bar and restaurant, where every element has been carefully selected to be at the forefront of contemporary design and style. During the day, Mthombo’s Place provides an intimate and relaxed eating space in the luxurious Restro Lounge Bar. In the evening, it is transformed into a lounge bar where glamorous crowds can enjoy chilled drinks and soul music at either the main bar or in any of the three private lounges. For more information, contact Mthombo Nkula on 076 948 6934.

Fly SA Wise, Gauteng

Based in the famous Vilakazi Street in Orlando West, Soweto, Fly SA Wise flies clients around Soweto, Johannesburg and Pretoria using helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft. Its services include day charters, scenic flips, corporate events, weddings and special events, aerial photography and cinematography, customised sightseeing and even marriage proposals! The brainchild of Soweto local Wiseman Ntombela, the company also introduces township learners to careers in aviation, such as piloting helicopters and aeroplanes and cabin crew training. For more information, contact Wiseman Ntombela on 011 067 0158 or email

Ezulwini Guesthouse, KwaZulu-Natal

Situated in Ballito, Hildah Sibanyoni’s Ezulwini is a modern-chic decorated guesthouse with a hint of African flair. It’s conveniently close to King Shaka International Airport and only few minutes away from the golden North Coast beaches. Visitors can enjoy a memorable stay in six individually decorated rooms, unwind next to the pool and bask in the balmy KwaZulu-Natal climate. Ezulwini promises its guests a piece of "heaven" by the sea. For more information, contact reception on 032 586 3806 or email

Lapologa Bed & Breakfast, Limpopo

This luxurious Tzaneen accommodation establishment offers nine beautifully decorated rooms, each with its own character and atmosphere. Granny Matsaung’s stylish bed and breakfast is perfect for both leisure and business travellers. Rooms are decorated and furnished to suit a variety of guests’ needs and to offer every comfort. Every room is en suite, with a full bathroom, and has air-conditioning to ensure peaceful sleep in the balmy Limpopo climate. For more information, contact reception on 015 306 0154 or email

Lowveld Extreme Adventures, Mpumalanga

This adventure tourism company, located near Hazyview, offers activities to tourists, couples, school groups and corporates seeking team-building exercises. It is strategically placed to offer quality and memorable adventures near the area’s tourist attractions such as the Kruger National Park. Among the activities offered are tubing, abseiling, hiking trails, teambuilding (outdoor creative games), game drives and site visits, as well as helping to arrange transport and accommodation. All activities are led by qualified guides. For more information, contact 073 968 4776 or email

Afrovibe Experiences, Western Cape

Situated metres away from the beach in the seaside village of Sedgefield, the funky Afrovibe offers both “mild and wild”, with Afrovibe Adventure Lodge and Afrovibe Beach House providing the perfect base from which to explore the Garden Route’s attractions. Adventure junkies can immerse themselves in kite surfing, paragliding, surfing, SUPing (stand-up paddling), canoeing, hiking and mountain biking. Afrovibe’s accommodation ranges from private and family rooms to dorm rooms, all of which are en suite. An in-house bar and restaurant are also at guests’ disposal. For more information, contact 044 343 3217 or email

For the full list of Lilizela Tourism Awards provincial winners, please visit http:/ 

Note to editors:

The Lilizela Tourism Awards is an initiative of the National Department of Tourism and is spearheaded by South African Tourism aimed at recognising and rewarding the highest levels of excellence in the tourism value chain. For more information, please visit or, or like the Lilizela Tourism Awards Facebook page or follow @Lilizela_Awards on Twitter for regular updates.

Issued by South African Tourism

For further information contact

Thandiwe Mathibela at South African Tourism        

Tel: +27 11 895 3000                                                     



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