The South African tourism industry celebrated its top business owners and service providers at the Lilizela Tourism Awards on 16 October 2016 which saw 53 winners voted the best of the best in categories ranging from service excellence and entrepreneurship to sustainable development.
South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, also announced the 2016 Minister’s Award at the star-studded gala event held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. This prestigious award, which recognises tourism innovators and pioneers, went to renowned Mpumalanga artist, Esther Mahlangu. A previous Lilizela category winner in the Roots and Culture category, Mahlangu’s colourful Ndebele designs have been exhibited around the world and have graced global brands such as BMW, British Airways, Fiat and Belvedere luxury vodka, placing South African traditional art and design on the international map.
“The Lilizela Tourism Awards give us the opportunity to celebrate trailblazers such as Mam’ Esther, as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry in general. Tonight is an opportunity to pause and thank these individuals and businesses for their contribution to putting South Africa firmly on the global stage by ensuring their product and service offerings are of the highest standard,” said Minister Hanekom.
The 2016 Lilizela Tourism Awards, an initiative of the National Department of Tourism and spearheaded by South African Tourism, was a star-studded celebratory affair hosted by media personalities Bonang Matheba and Jason Greer. The electrifying entertainment for the night was provided by Mi Casa, the Mzansi Youth Choir and the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra. The occasion gave players and stakeholders in the country’s tourism industry the opportunity to come together to toast to excellence and be inspired by the example of others.
Members of the public were then invited to have their say on the Lilizela Tourism Awards website by voting. These votes together with those from various platforms such as TripAdvisor and TGCSA’s Tourism Analytics Programme, formed 80% of the score for each entry. A panel of high-level judges for each category, drawn from the industry and academia, contributed the remaining 20% of each establishment’s score.
From these calculations, 589 finalists were selected nationwide, and each province held its own awards ceremony in the run-up to the national finals. During these provincial award ceremonies, 262 provincial winners were celebrated. This provincial shortlist was further narrowed down to 53 national winners, who were honoured with trophies on Sunday night.
The winners are:
Backpacking and Hosteling:
Amapondo Backpackers, Eastern Cape
Tube ‘n Axe Backpackers Lodge, Eastern Cape
Curiocity Backpackers, Gauteng
Saltycrax Backpackers, Western Cape
Bed & Breakfast:
Visit Vakasha Guest Lodge, Mpumalanga
Brown’s Manor, Northern Cape
Lemon Tree Lane Bed and Breakfast, Eastern Cape
Caravan and Camping:
Plettenberg A Forever Resort, Western Cape
ATKV Bufflespoort Holiday Resort Caravan & Camping, North West
Mashutti Country Lodge, Limpopo
De Doornkraal Historic Country House, Western Cape
Falcons View Manor, Western Cape
Umlani Bushcamp, Limpopo
Leopard Mountain, KwaZulu-Natal
Jock Safari Lodge, Mpumalanga
Flamingo’s Nest Guest House and Conference Centre, Gauteng
The Three, Western Cape
Loerie’s Call Guest House, Mpumalanga
Road Lodge Potchefstroom, North West
Town Lodge Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
Garden Court Blackrock, KwaZulu-Natal
Thaba Eco Hotel, Gauteng
Taj Cape Town, Western Cape
iNsingizi Lodge, KwaZulu-Natal
Three Trees at Spioenkop, KwaZulu-Natal
Tintswalo Atlantic Lodge, Western Cape
Meetings Exhibitions and Special Events (MESE):
Ingwenyama Conference & Sports Resort, Mpumalanga
NH The Lord Charles Hotel, Western Cape
The Forum The Campus, Gauteng
Beverley Country Cottages, KwaZulu- Natal
171 Marula drive – Zimbali Coastal Resort & Estate, KwaZulu-Natal
Zebula Golf Estate & Spa, Limpopo
Self-catering Shared Vacation:
Gariep A Forever Resort Chalets, Free State
Thunzi Bush Lodge, Eastern Cape
Beach Break in the Eastern Cape
Visitor Experience Awards
Action and Adventure: Bloukrans Bungy – Face Adrenalin, Eastern Cape
Beach Experience: Chokka Trail, Eastern Cape
Culture and Lifestyle: Magic Moments in Oudtshoorn, Western Cape
Lap of Luxury: The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Western Cape
Marine Adventure: Raggy Charters, Eastern Cape
Roots and Culture: Lebo’s Soweto, Gauteng
Scenic Beauty: Cape Point, Table Mountain National Park, Western Cape
Wildlife Encounters: Inyati Game Lodge, Mpumalanga
Springbok Atlas Tours & Safaris, Western Cape
Sidney Fhumulani Mikosi, Limpopo
James Fernie, Western Cape
ETEYA – Culture Villages
Besty Travel, Limpopo
Accommodation: Mobility – Soli deo Gloria, Western Cape
Experience: General – Epic Enabled and Epic Guest House, Western Cape
Experience: Mobility – Flamingo Tours & Disabled Ventures, Western Cape
Exempted Micro Enterprise (EME) under R5m – Thaba Tshwene Game Lodge, North West
Large Enterprise over R45m – Cape Town International Convention Centre Company, Western Cape
Qualifying Small Enterprise (QSE) R5m – R45m – Stormsriver Adventures (Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour), Eastern Cape
Entry to the Lilizela Tourism Awards is free and tourism businesses of all sizes are encouraged to enter in a bid to help develop, grow and transform the industry. For more information, visit Lilizela Tourism Awards. Entries for the 2017 Lilizela Awards open on 1 December 2016.
Cape Town – With global warming on everyone’s mind, thanks to the Paris climate change summit, it seemed a good time to visit Cape Town’s Hotel Verde.
The venue markets itself as Africa’s greenest hotel and the first hotel in Africa to offer carbon-neutral accommodation and conferencing.
Is it just me or does anyone else get annoyed with green jargon? What exactly is carbon neutral accommodation?
Deciphered, this means that guests leave an invisible carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is an estimate of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organisation, event, product or individual. Whereas wasteful energy and water practices create a big, dirty carbon footprint, energy and water-efficiency minimises the carbon footprint. Currently a guest’s one-night stay in an average room at Hotel Verde generates the equivalent of about 54kg of carbon. Hotel Verde offsets this carbon usage by donating carbon credit purchases to an environmental project in Zimbabwe.
There has been huge interest in the venue since it rolled out the green carpet and the hotel was fully booked on the evening of our visit. A news clippings agency estimates the value of the media exposure that the hotel has generated at R25-million, which nicely balances the green budget of R22m.
Hotel Verde focuses on efficient energy use, rather than using renewable energy. In an efficient system, waste products become resources. A slogan on the wall reads “Come shower so that we can flush the toilet”, referring to the fact that used bath and shower water is channelled to the grey water plant, where it is filtered, sterilised and used to flush toilets.
Edged with gleaming silver pipes and decorated with funky murals, the underground parking is surely Cape Town’s most inviting car park. Our guide informs us that instead of concrete pillars that are usually used to hold buildings aloft, the hotel used 46 000 Cobiax void formers. “You must have had a seriously qualified structural engineer” remarks one man in response to the intricate explanation about Cobiax void formers. Basically, because Hotel Verde uses less concrete it is 34 percent lighter than a conventional building.
Above the car park, green roofs and living walls are incorporated into the hotel. I love the idea of picking my spinach from the wall. Who said that vegetables have to be grown in the ground? One wall is a dedicated vertical aquaponics garden where small edible plants, like fennel and parsley, are grown, picked and used in the restaurant.
Everything at Hotel Verde is incredibly controlled – except for the guests. The hotel sends only 13 percent of all its waste to the landfill and most of that waste is created by guests. Other than sifting through their luggage, which visitors don’t really appreciate, there is no way of ensuring that clients don’t import heavily packaged goods or chemical-laden toiletries. The hotel provides environmentally friendly products in rooms and hopes for the best.
Hotel Verde’s gym brings attention to how much effort it takes to generate energy. The exercise bike shows that despite the most frantic pedalling, users only manage to produce enough energy to boil water for a cup of coffee.
This is a variation of the demonstration by Olympic track cyclist, Robert Forstemann. Even with his 74cm thick legs, generating enough energy to power a 700w toaster to create golden-brown toast left Forstemann lying on his back panting. All the talk of Cobiax void formers and complicated cooling systems makes me hungry and I’m keen to tuck into the earth hour buffet. Adapted from the global annual Earth hour, this regular Wednesday night buffet style braai allows guests to dine by candle and solar lighting.
Thankfully, green dining is delicious. Organic food sourced within a 360km radius ensures that the salads are fresh and crunchy. The best thing about the buffet is the conversation it inspires about how to save the world, or at least set up an aquaponics system. My companions are visionaries, people who want to change the world, one bunch of spinach at a time. They include Sheryl Ozinsky who runs the Oranjezicht City Farm at Granger Bay, and Fiona McPherson, who is spearheading the aquaponics movement in SA.
Hotel Verde is sandwiched between carbon guzzling capitalism to the left and poverty to the right. I can’t help but think as I nibble on my organic celery stick that any carbon savings guests might make during their stay are obliterated the moment they step into the airplane. One 8 000km round-trip flight from Europe creates a warming effect equivalent to two or three tons of carbon dioxide per person.
Then there is the awkward fact that township residents have a much more negligible carbon footprint than all the privileged people scuttling about the globe.
Without meaning to burst Hotel Verde’s carbon neutral bubble, I feel compelled to point out that the easiest way for guests to lessen their carbon footprint is to simply stay at home. Air travel is the biggest carbon sin. As the poet Gary Snyder said: “The most radical thing you can do is stay home.” Elaborating on this theme, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit writes: “The word radical comes from the Latin word for root. Perhaps the most radical thing you can do in our time is to start turning over the soil, loosening it up for the crops to settle in and then stay home to tend them.”
The Cape tourism sector has remained buoyant despite numerous challenges facing the industry.
Cape Town had experienced steady growth in tourism numbers since 2012, resulting in an increase in the direct tourism spend from R14.4 billion in 2012 to R15.6 billion in 2014, according to research conducted by Grant Thornton, on behalf of the city, over a three-year period.
Of the 1,745,300 foreign arrivals to the Western Cape, just over 94 percent (1,645,469) chose Cape Town as their holiday destination, mayoral committee member for tourism, events, and economic development Garreth Bloor said.
The domestic tourism market also remained buoyant, with 863,351 visitors making their way to the city, representing an increase of just over 191,000 domestic visitors.
“For the first time, the research has identified the spend by domestic travellers on day trips to Cape Town, which amounted to R3.2 billion in 2013. This underscores the importance of not underestimating day trips to the city. We need to take cognisance of the bigger picture – although day visitors do not spend on overnight accommodation, they spend on the city’s attractions, restaurants, local transport, and shopping, among others. At R3.2 billion per year, this is a significant contribution to the economy of Cape Town,” he said.
“This spending power of all visitors to our city helps to stimulate local job creation. We have seen an encouraging upward trend over the last few years, with the number of jobs increasing steadily. Currently there are 38,838 permanent jobs and 15,489 temporary jobs created in the local tourism sector. I am pleased to see this positive trend, especially during the tough economic climate that we are facing currently. Sustainable job creation is a huge challenge so every job created is most welcomed.”
A phenomenal 28,000,000 domestic trips were taken in South Africa in 2014 and there were 10,247,614 foreign arrivals to the country for the same period.
Key findings presented with regard to domestic tourism in Cape Town and the Western Cape for 2013/14, included the total direct tourism spend by domestic travellers to Cape Town was R1.9 billion, and the number of domestic bed nights on trips to Cape Town increased by 4.2 percent to 5,467,956.
Domestic overnight spend in Cape Town had grown by 10.8 percent per annum between 2009 and 2014, compared with growth in total domestic spend of 3.7 percent. With an assumed inflation rate of around five percent, the growth in domestic overnight spend in Cape Town represented real growth of 5.8 percent per annum.
The main purpose of domestic trips taken to the Western Cape was generally to visit family or relatives (60 percent), followed by 23 percent travelling to take a holiday. There was a much higher incidence of trips to the Western Cape being taken for holiday purposes as compared with South Africa as a whole.
Key findings regarding foreign tourism in Cape Town and the Western Cape for 2013/14, included the total direct tourism spend by foreign visitors to Cape Town topped R13.6 billion, and foreign direct tourism spend in Cape Town had increased by 3.9 percent per annum between 2009 and 2014.
The number of bed nights occupied by foreign arrivals in Cape Town increased to 15,514,877 from 13,392,566 in 2013 – an increase of 2.1 million bed nights. The Western Cape share of foreign bed nights was 22,409,196 for this period.
“It is also interesting to note the shift in the visitor profile of foreign visitors to our shores. We have noticed a trend over the last few years whereby our travellers are much younger today. One of the reasons is that South Africa is known as an adventure destination, attracting younger and more active foreign tourists searching for diverse experiences and holidays that are not offered elsewhere,” Bloor said.
In keeping with the trend of the past few years, more than 60 percent of foreign visitors to South Africa were between 24 and 44 years old, with the majority (32.1 percent) being between 35 and 44. This was closely followed by 31.8 percent in the 25 to 34 age group. Only 10.5 percent of foreign visitors were 24 or younger.
Just over 30 percent of foreign travellers indicated that their primary purpose for travelling was to visit friends. This was followed by 19.1 percent of foreign travellers to South Africa for holiday purposes and 14.2 percent travelling for personal shopping purposes, Bloor said.
The Cape Floral Kingdom
Most of South Africa’s vineyards lie in the Cape Floral Kingdom, the world’s smallest yet richest plant kingdom. Recognised as a global biodiversity hot-spot, and with World Heritage site status since 2004, the Cape Floral Kingdom and its two main vegetation types, namely fynbos and renosterveld, has come under increasing threat due to urban development, agricultural expansion and invasive alien species.Unlike fynbos, which happily grows in poor soil conditions, renosterveld prefers the sort of fertile, fine-grained soils that are also ideal for cultivating wheat and vines, placing this natural vegetation under even greater threat of being wiped out.Since 80% of the Cape Floral Kingdom is privately owned, it has become obvious over the years that landowner participation in the conservation process is imperative.In 2004, with a mere four percent of pristine renosterveld left untouched and much of the Cape Floral Kingdom’s lowland fynbos ecosystems under threat, the wine industry developed a conservation partnership with the Botanical Society of South Africa, Conservation International and the Green Trust, which led to the establishment of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.
Biodiversity and Wine Initiative
In a nutshell, the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) aims to minimise the loss of threatened natural habitats, as described above, and contribute to sustainable wine production through better land management practices on farms.In the past, individual members of the BWI have worked hard to establish conservation management plans for their land. While they have done great things in raising the profile of biodiversity conservation and eco-tourism, many of them are working in isolation.To put the widespread support of the BWI in perspective, there are over 150 accredited members. Members contract to conserve a minimum of two hectares of natural or restored vegetation on their land, while champion members (of which there are currently 15) are those who have established a full conservation management plan and have committed to conserving at least 10% of their natural land area.In 2008, conservation history was made when the conservation footprint in the winelands exceeded the vineyard footprint for the first time. What this means is that in less than four years, the wine industry has succeeded in setting more area aside for long term conservation than is currently planted under vineyard.With this achievement, South Africa is leading the world in the conservation of biodiversity in this environment. It also illustrates the industry’s commitment to protecting our unique natural heritage.
Conservancies joint eco-tourism activities
Right now, one of the most exciting emerging trends in eco-tourism in the Western Cape is the way in which wine regions are getting involved by establishing conservancies and developing joint eco-tourism activities, drawing on the network of producers within the same area and pooling their resources.The result is of far greater benefit to the individual, while also raising the profile of the entire region.Engaging with environmentally aware travellers has never been more fashionable or more important. By teaming up with their neighbours, producers are no longer competing for individual attention and business but are rather maximising what’s on offer in terms of accommodation, entertainment and diversions within their region. This not only keeps visitors in the area for longer but also heightens awareness.BWI is focusing on assisting the cooperation of individual landowners to form regional conservancies, says Inge Kotze, BWI project coordinator.
World’s first biodiversity wine route
A fine example of this is the Green Mountain Eco-Route, the world’s first biodiversity wine route, incorporating the area around the Groenland mountain and including Bot River, Elgin, Grabouw, Houw Hoek and Villiersdorp.Within easy driving distance of Cape Town, the scenic beauty of the route is ideal as a weekend getaway. Visitors may choose from mountain biking, hiking, luxury farm accommodation, local produce markets, restaurants and wedding venues, not to mention exceptional wine tasting opportunities at participating BWI member farms (Paul Cluver, Beaumont Wines and Oak Valley to name a few).Paul Cluver, in partnership with Slowine, has also introduced a biodiversity trail around the Groenland mountain. The “Take a Hike” five-day hiking trail brings you up close and personal with the natural beauty of participating farms and wine estates, some of which provide overnight accommodation facilities.
The Darling Wine Route
Darling, again less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town, is the first wine producing district to be awarded BWI membership status as a district, with all individual farms, including Cloof, Burghers Post, Groote Post, Ormonde and Darling Cellars, achieving accreditation.The Darling Wine Route offers numerous attractions, from glorious wildflower displays in the spring to guided game drives and walks.Rocking the Daisies is an annual music and lifestyle festival held in October. Held at Cloof Wine Estate and endorsed by the World Wildlife Fund, its motto is suitably eco-friendly: “play hard, tread lightly”.
Groote Post has recently celebrated 10 years of wine making, has a long history in conservation and hopes to become a BWI “champion” in the near future. It was one of the driving forces in establishing the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, which incorporates the Groote Post farm and stretches from the Milnerton lagoon to Langebaan.Groote Post is home to 2 175 hectares of conservation worthy natural vegetation, including the endangered Swartland granite renosterveld, Swartland shale renosterveld and Atlantis sand fynbos.Eco-tourism opportunities on the farm include wine tasting, Hilda’s Kitchen (a country restaurant named after local cook Hilda Gonda Duckitt), nature walks, game drives to view the farm’s many antelope, and excellent bird-watching. The farm also holds great appeal as part of the famous West Coast spring flower route.
Biodiversity and Wine Walks
In the Helderberg Basin, the Schapenberg Sir Lowry’s Conservancy recently launched its Biodiversity and Wine Walks (“Walks for Wine”) in the Sir Lowry’s Pass area.Participating in the project are six wine farms, namely Waterkloof (wine tasting and a smart new restaurant is on offer here), Onderkloof (with a tea garden), Mount Rozier, Journey’s End, Wedderwill, and Da Capo together with other landowners over whose properties the walks will traverse.The aim is to restore and preserve the land within the Schapenberg Sir Lowry’s Conservancy identified by the City of Cape Town as critical and irreplaceable biodiversity corridors. A large part of this area was ravaged by devastating fires in February 2009.The guided walks follow these biodiversity corridors, educating the public as to their importance while raising funds towards their restoration and preservation.
Greater Simonsberg Conservancy
Some 24 landowners around the Simonsberg have joined forces and established The Greater Simonsberg Conservancy in an attempt to save the Cape Floral Kingdom.The Delvera Agri-tourism Centre is a focal point of the Conservancy, and offers retail therapy (from olives and ceramics to fashion and wool), a choice of restaurants, a plant nursery, activities for kids and very well organised outdoor pursuits including walking, hiking, birdwatching, and mountain biking (Delvera is also the headquarters of Dirtopia Trail Centre).Particularly popular are the full-moon hikes each month. Hikers walk to the top of Klapmutskop, where there is an indigenous yellowwood forest and wraparound view of False Bay, Table Mountain, Franschhoek and Paarl.There are many more examples of wine farms joining forces to protect their heritage. For BWI’s Inge Kotze, “it’s incredibly rewarding to see members progressing from individual membership to compliance at a district level, demonstrating how this project is all about action on the ground through the ongoing dedication and commitment to conserving our unique Cape winelands”.
The Alternative Winelands Tour
Dreamcatcher is a unique organisation that focuses exclusively on community-based tourism in South Africa. It was established 25 years ago with the aim of empowering local people, in particular women, through tourism.The Alternative Winelands Tour, facilitated by Dreamcatcher, offers a heart-warming and educational alternative to the mainstream Cape Winelands experience.The tour features insights into the lives of labourers who worked the land during establishment of the Western Cape’s wine estates, enabling visitors to learn about the challenges of hostel and farm life and how the community has developed to present day.The tour visits wine estates that have demonstrated a commitment to employees (such as providing access to land and technical assistance to start their own wine label), and features a unique opportunity to prepare (and sample!) traditional food during a cook-up with the “Kamammas” (local women from the area).According to Jennifer Seif, Executive Director of Fair Trade Tourism South Africa, The Alternative Winelands Tour “is an excellent example of professionally organised community-based tourism,” opening a window on the lives of ordinary South Africans “through food, story-telling, wine, music and truly South African hospitality at its best.”The tour communicates the diversity and majesty of the Cape Winelands through sight-seeing, wine-tasting and personal interaction with farm workers and community members who open their homes to guests.The involvement of the Dreamcatcher Foundation ensures that tourism revenue is ploughed back into community and enterprise development programmes, so the tour is not only enjoyable and educational, but also sustainable.