Limpopo — THE Limpopo Province is eager to sustain its growing reputation as major tourism destination of choice for local and international visitors. South Africa's northernmost province is registering significant growth in the sector in defiance of the prevailing economic upheavals. Courtesy of efforts by the Limpopo Tourism Authority (LTA), the province is registering increasing volumes of international tourists drawn from the United Kingdom (UK), Germany and the United States. Closer to South Africa, the province has been attracting holiday makers from Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, among other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc.
This growth has been recognised at the country's premier tourism awards- The Lilizela Awards, which the province has dominated over the years. The 2017 edition of the national awards is scheduled for October 29 at the Sandton International Convention Centre. LTA is eager of maintaining the province's dominance. Its interim Chief Executive Officer, Gladwin Bibi Kotsedi, told CAJ News the awards had gained momentum and inspiring new tourism establishments. "Last year (2016) the Lilizela Awards hosted 40 entries, but this year the figure rose to 52, including our provincial winner who will represent us Gauteng. "I believe with competitions such as these (Lilizela), we have the ability to expose our tourism offering nationally, regionally and internationally thereby creating jobs," said Kotsedi. He pointed out that while infrastructure was key to a successful tourism industry, according visitors a warm reception and hospitality were equally important.
Kotsedi hence urged local tourism businesses to thrive to provide the best service and warm reception to retain visitors. The provincial Lilizela Tourism Awards for Limpopo were held last Wednesday at the Zebula Golf Estate and Spa in the Waterberg District, with the backdrop of the majestic Waterberg mountain rage. The lush and thick vegetation, home to finest lodges and the National Parks Marakele,is host to South Africa's best safari golf courses. Kone Sebata won the Limpopo provincial Lilizela Tourism accolade. His tourism venture created 25 permanent jobs with 50 part time employment opportunities to South Africans. "The secret to succeed in anything one does is to understand what one would like to offer. Most importantly, people should love what they are doing. Money will always come second. Strive to give best service and make customers happy," Sebata said in a separate interview.
Limpopo Economic Development Member of the Executive Council (MEC): Environment and Tourism, Seaparo Sekoati, hailed local operators for their contribution to service excellence and quality assurance in the tourism industry. "Our tourism establishments and attractions in the province should compel the travellers to want to stay longer because of the comfort and hospitality they receive in our facilities," Sekoati said. Sekoati said the Lilizela Tourism Awards were an opportunity to celebrate professionalism, creativity and innovation in the industry. "When visitors take holidays, they expect the welcome at the gates and receptions of all our tourism facilities to be warm and welcoming for them to consider returning," the MEC said. With contrasting landscapes and teeming wildlife, which is typical of Africa, Limpopo has become a favourite destination for leisure and adventure travellers worldwide. According to Satistics South Africa, Gauteng and Limpopo are currently the most popular destinations for day travellers. Overnight travelers were most likely to visit Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. According to SA Tourism on the review of the performance of the tourism sector in 2015, Limpopo received the most trips as a destination province compared to other provinces.