Entries are open for the 2013 Lilizelo Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism, which this year have achieved new heights with their incorporation into the National Department of Tourism’s newly announced Lilizela Tourism Awards.

The Lilizela Imvelo Awards are a joint initiative between the National Department of Tourism and the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA), custodian of the Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism, for more than a decade. This year, the prestigious Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism have proudly been incorporated into the new national Lilizela Awards for excellence in tourism as the Awards’ sustainable tourism category, one of five categories in the inaugural awards.

The Lilizela Imvelo Awards are designed to inspire all tourism businesses within southern Africa to be the best that they can be in the field of responsible tourism, giving national recognition for their efforts in sustainability and environmental awareness and raising their profile locally and internationally.

“The Lilizela Tourism Awards will recognise and reward members of the tourism industry who have gone some way towards growing South Africa’s global destination competitiveness,” says Eddy Khosa, chairman of FEDHASA. “This, by necessity, includes sustainability in tourism, which is fundamental to the growth of our tourism industry. Incorporating the Imvelo Awards into the new Lilizela Awards highlights the importance of the holistic approach to development within our industry. FEDHASA is proud to be an integral part of something that so comprehensively applauds excellence across the entire spectrum of the industry and that augurs well for progress within our industry.”

The South African tourism sector is one of the top performers in the world. In 2012 an unprecedented growth of 10.2 percent in international arrivals was recorded, which was more than double the rate of average global tourist growth of about four percent estimated by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

Explains SA Tourism CEO, Thulani Nzima, “‘Lilizela’ is an Nguni word for celebratory ululation and ‘imvelo’ means ‘nature’ in Nguni languages. Together, these awards celebrate excellence and recognise the passion that businesses within the industry have for world-class standards in responsible tourism. These Lilizela Tourism Awards, which take place in five categories, one of which is the sustainability in tourism awards, represented by the Lilizela Imvelo Awards, give us as a vibrant industry the opportunity to celebrate professionalism, creativity and innovation within our industry.”

“Within the Lilizela Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism, there are six categories which will each have two prize winners, allowing both large and small operations to win by competing against like-sized businesses. There will also be an overall winner, chosen from the six categories’ winners,” says Caleb Mabaso, head of strategic projects of FEDHASA.

The Lilizela Imvelo Awards categories are: Best Social Involvement Programme; Best Practice – Economic Impact; Best Overall Environmental Management System; Best Single Resource Management Programme – with sub-categories for energy efficiency, water efficiency and waste-management; Most Empowered Tourism Business, and the Investor in People Award. Each of the categories will recognise both large and small establishments in terms of their contribution to responsible tourism.

The main partners for the 2013 Lilizela Imvelo Awards are the Department of Tourism, Department of Water Affairs, Eskom, Absa, IDC, and Don’t Waste Services.

Entries for the awards are free. The overall winners from each category will be announced on 12 September 2013 at the inaugural Lilizela Tourism Awards’ national award ceremony.

“We have no doubt that these awards will add value to our industry. They will encourage improvement in standards and learning from those who make the highest grades. They will motivate the industry to work together to celebrate the entrepreneurs and businesses that are being the best they can be and so help to grow our economy and place South Africa more firmly on the global tourism map,” concludes Nzima.

All tourism businesses are invited to celebrate their professionalism, creativity and innovation in the responsible tourism by entering these prestigious awards. Simply visit or to find out more.