ENTRIES for the esteemed Lilizela Tourism Awards for accommodation establishments and tourism-related products and services will open on March 1, 2018. The annual awards recognise and reward tourism players and businesses who work with tireless pride to deliver world-class products and services, growing South Africa’s global competitiveness as a destination in the process.The Lilizela Tourism Awards have been honouring the “best of the best” products, experiences and people in the South African tourism sector since 2012. An initiative of the National Department of Tourism and spearheaded by South African Tourism, the annual awards ceremony is always a star-studded and celebratory affair.“The Lilizela Tourism Awards give us the opportunity to celebrate passionate and committed trailblazers, as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry,” says South African Tourism’s Chief Executive Officer, Sisa Ntshona.“We are proud that through the Lilizela Tourism Awards, we have increased awareness of the important role that tourism plays in spurring on economic growth in the region. The prestige that is associated with this awards initiative is evidence that South African Tourism’s ongoing drive to promote service excellence and product grading through the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) is yielding positive results for the tourism industry.”In 2017, the awards attracted a record number of 1 649 entries, up by about 40% from 2016’s figure. Tourism businesses across the nine provinces are encouraged to enter. Accommodation establishments are required to be graded with the TGCSA to enter and those yet to be graded are encouraged to do so on the www.tourismgrading.co.za site. The TGCSA is the only recognised and globally benchmarked quality assurance body for tourism products in South Africa.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 www.lilizela.co.za. Entries close on May 31, 2018.