The year's most exceptional performers in the tourism industry were crowned at INDABA 2011 at the 2011 Welcome Awards held at Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
Established in 2005, the awards recognise and promote service excellence and innovation in the local tourism industry and have grown considerably over the years, with a total of 2,924 entries received for the 2011 awards - compared to 1,406 entries last year.
The overall winners across the nine categories were selected for their consistency in delivering customer experiences that capture the warm South African welcome and service excellence standards that embody South Africa's unique offering to local and international travellers.
At a glitzy, fun-filled awards evening moderated by former Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss, the winners were announced as:
Accommodation: The Cape
The award winning boutique hotel lies cradled beneath the majestic Table Mountain and is best known for its excellent service, a chic atmosphere and stunning interior décor.
Car Rental: Economic Car and Bakkie Hire
Economic Car Hire has been providing a solution to the Eastern Cape travel requirements for the past 20 years. This car hire company provides a range of vehicles to suit the needs of visiting businessmen and touring families alike.
Meetings, Exhibitions and Special Events: The Plantation
Nestled in Port Elizabeth's indigenous coastal milkwood forest, The Plantation offers the perfect setting for weddings, corporate and private functions, conferences and a relaxing country retreat. Situated in Lovemore Park, The Plantation is within 5 minutes from the Port Elizabeth (PE) International Airport and 10 minutes from PE's city centre.
Restaurants: Hemingways Restaurant at Leriba Hotel and Spa
Hemingways Restaurant and Wine Cellar in Centurion, Pretoria is tastefully decorated in French style with understated minimalistic elegance. The carefully selected wine collection offers a wide range of tastes and flavours, representing most of the wine regions in South Africa.
Tour Operators: Western Cape Tours
Western Cape Tours offers scheduled and personalised tours for small groups. You can travel in style by choosing from a selection of budget or luxury vehicles, you can even rent a Harley Davidson from Western Cape Tours.
Tourist Attractions: SAB World of Beer
The SAB World of Beer ranks as one of South Africa's top tourist experiences, offering nearly 50 000 visitors a year a uniquely memorable encounter with the magic of beer and brewing.
Tourist Guides: Greg Lederle
Greg Lederle, from Molori Safari Lodge in the Madikwe Game reserve in South Africa, has become top choice for a string of A-list safari fans, both locally and internationally. Responsible for managing the lodge, Lederle's hands-on approach has seen him rise to the top of service excellence standards.
Travel Agencies: Sure Zorgvliet Travel
The combined travel experience of the specialist consultants at Sure Zorgvliet Travel guarantees service excellence for business and leisure travellers alike. Innovative technology and streamlined systems are utilized to the benefit of travellers, making it possible to provide up to date information and quick access to bookings, airline reservations, and all travel related services.
Best Tourism Website (online): Sandton Sun Hotel
Elegant and legendary, the Sandton Sun offers guests a distinguished and memorable stay. Linked to the Sandton Convention Centre and the Sandton City Shopping Centre, this hotel combines business services, contemporary dining and fashionable shopping, appealing to both leisure and business travellers.
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa, joined a festive crowd in celebrating the achievements of the Welcome Awards winners and finalists.
"I am delighted to see that these awards are drawing more and more interest each year from such diverse sectors of the tourism sector. It means we as an industry are creating a culture of exceptional performance and benchmarking ourselves against top international standards we can all measure ourselves against. I would like to congratulate the Welcome Awards winners and finalists and commend them for their extraordinary efforts in continuing to raise the bar in service excellence in the tourism industry," said Deputy Minister Tokozile Xasa.
In addition to the nine winners listed, Sub-Category winners also recognised at the ceremony include:
- Self Catering: Montvue Self Catering
- Lodges: Mount Sheba Forever Resport
- Bed & Breakfast / guesthouses / country house: 138 Marine Beachfront Guesthouse
- Backpackers & Hostelling/caravan and camping sites: Forever Resorts, Plettenberg
- Exhibitions and special Events venues: CSIR International Convention Centre
- Casual Dining: Thunder Ridge Spur
- Tour Operators
- Operating more than five years: Thompsons Africa
- Tourist Guides
- Regional, local or site: Ann Evans
- Provincial: Donald Modiboa