The Lilizela Tourism Awards 2018 took place on the 17th of November at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg and celebrates tourism players and businesses whose hard work grows South Africa’s competitiveness as a global destination. Every year, one individual and their company is selected for the Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award (ETEYA). As defined in the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, candidates for this award are black entrepreneurs who operate small, micro and medium tourism or hospitality-related businesses. They must have been in operation for less than 10 years, employ no more than 50 people and have a turnover of not more than R10 million a year.The 2018 ETEYA went to Siphokazi Thiam and the La Teranga Accommodation & Conference Group, a 3-star graded establishment that focuses on accommodation, conferencing, events, restaurants and tours. Located in the little town of Kokstad, it sits on the boundary between Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape, nestled in the heart of East Griqualand. Together with her husband, Thiam started the establishment in 2009 with just three bedrooms after seeing the need for accommodation in the area for travellers and contract workers. Less than 10 years later, her budding business is putting Kokstad on the map as it has matured into fully fledged hotel group. “It means so much for me that my entrepreneurship skills have been recognised,” Thiam, says. Thiam says that as much as it’s often tough to start and do business in rural areas, they don’t have to stand back and let the urban areas surpass them if everyone “pulls up their socks and works hard.” As an ambassador for rural tourism development, Thiam also wants to encourage young people to pave careers for themselves in the tourism industry because she believes that tourism is a vessel for economic growth. “A lot of people think tourism is just about visitors and hospitality but there are so many jobs that young people can create in the industry,” she says.This past Saturday, November 17th we paid homage to some of the countries best individuals, establishments & products in the Tourism industry at the #LilizelaAwards18. Take a look at the full list of winners here: https://t.co/omdfNfGnp1. #LilizelaAwards18 pic.twitter.com/bUNKkpH5qm— The Lilizela Awards (@Lilizela_Awards) November 21, 2018 This post was sponsored by South African Tourism produced by BrandStudio24 for News24.