Lilizela Awards honours artist for being global ambassador for South Africa’s indigenous arts and cultural heritage
SOUTH African artist Esther Mahlangu has been acknowledged for the stellar work she has done to promote the Ndebele culture at the recent Lilizela Tourism Awards.
Tourism Minister Thokozile Xasa inducted Mahlangu into the Lilizela Hall of Fame. Mahlangu, who received the Minister’s Award last year, became the inaugural Hall of Fame inductee for being an exemplary global ambassador for South Africa’s indigenous arts and cultural heritage.
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 81-year-old Mahlangu joined 53 other national winners of the Lilizela Tourism Awards, who travellers had voted the best of the best in categories ranging from service excellence and entrepreneurship to sustainable development. “We salute Mam’ Esther who is truly a national treasure and an outstanding ambassador for South Africa’s rich cultural offerings,” Xasa said.
Congratulating the other winners, Xasa said: “Yes, you are the stars who add shine and sparkle to our tourism industry. You are the stars who are making South Africa a go-to tourism destination with your devotion to excellence.
“You are the stars who brought 10 million international tourists here last year, and you are the stars who inspired almost 12 million South Africans to travel around their own country in 2016. We have this very industry that is the lifeblood of the economy continue to contribute immensely to the socio-economic development of our country.”
Xasa continued to say on the country’s journey to achieving the goals set out in the national tourism 5-in-5 strategy, South Africa has seen 6.7 million international arrivals and two million domestic holiday trips.
“Without you, there are no tourists to celebrate and no industry to talk about. We are here to celebrate you,” she said.
Xasa added that through the National Department of Tourism’s Tourism Incentive Programme, they were empowering remarkable small businesses to reach their full potential. She said they were opening up markets and giving them access to international travel buyers, through trade shows and other platforms.
“Some of our beneficiaries are here as winners and finalists and some are actually past winners of this prestigious award. This is proof, indeed, that excellent tourism products just need the right opportunities to shine. Our department has set up a specialised Enterprise Development Project Management Unit to develop new tourism products and services for the both the domestic and international markets,” Xasa added.
The event was a glittering ceremony that captured the imaginations of those attending.
The evening saw the South African tourism industry celebrating the work done by business owners and service providers to positively market the country and make it a destination of choice.
The 2017 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 television personalities, Thapelo Mokoena and Masechaba Ndlovu.
The award ceremony recognises proudly South African organisations or individuals who, through sheer dedication and passion, have excelled in positioning the country as a tourism destination of choice, contributing to the vibrancy and growth of the sector.
The Lilizela Tourism Awards 2017, the “We Do Tourism Award”, were in the spirit of asking South Africans to rally around tourism as a catalyst for inclusive economic growth.