DURBAN – The City honoured excellence and resilience at the recent Durban Tourism Business Awards.

Entrepreneurs in the tourism, hospitality, and creative industries received a much-needed boost for their businesses when they were honoured at the 2nd Durban Tourism Business Awards yesterday, 15 June, at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

As much as praise was heaped on five-star hotels and local Grammy award-winning artists in the City, the night also belonged to rickshaw pullers, craftmakers, and tour guides.

EThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda said the awards, which attracted 155 nominees this year, formed part of the City’s drive to resuscitate the tourism sector. They also aimed to ensure that the sector continued to be a catalyst for economic growth in the City.  “It is these exceptional offerings by tourism product owners that makes this sector continue to be one of our largest industries in eThekwini.”

This year’s Rickshaw puller winner, was 61-year-old Mjabuliseni Dlamini.  He said the R50 000 prize money will help him to renovate his rickshaw as it has been difficult to save because business has been slow since COVID-19.

Solani  Mtshali, of Masimbonge Club, took the honours in the Crafters Category. She said her winnings would be invested back into the business.   “Through this business, I have managed to raise my children. Not so long ago, I was at the World Table Tennis Championships and now I am winning this award, I am truly grateful,” she said.

Jeannie Sarno, the owner of Burnham B&B, a 4-star accommodation in uMhlanga, scooped the Service Excellence Award in the Non-hotels Category. She launched her establishment 14 years ago.  She said: “I am very humbled; it is unbelievable winning. Thank you to eThekwini, our staff and clients. We promise to continue working with Durban Tourism to position City as a preferred tourist destination.”

The Radisson Blu 5-star hotel won two awards namely the category of Service Excellence in Meetings, Exhibitions and Special Events (MESE) as well as the Visitor Experience and Restaurants Award.   Accepting the award, Radisson Blu owner businessman Vivian Reddy said the money would be donated to charity. He donated the first R50 000 to the Durban Child Welfare, and asked the Mayor to donate the second R50 000 prize money to a charity organisation of his choice.

Other winners were HD N3 TWORK who scooped the Upcoming Filmmakers Award as well as Sunsquare Suncoast and Suncoast Towers who walked away with the Best Hotels honour.  Travel Bug Bugs Tours took home the Tour Operators Award while Durban Walking Tours won under the Tour Guides category. KZN Music Imbizo was named as the winner under the Event Owners and Promoters category.  T&T Bed & Breakfast won the Universal Accessibility and Green Tourism Award while Guides Connect was named as the Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur.

Photo: eThekwini Municipality

Mayor Kaunda, together with  Economic Development and Planning Committee Chairperson Councillor Thembo Ntuli, presented the Exceptional Achievement Awards.

Councillor Ntuli said the Exceptional Achievement Award honours outstanding business players who contribute to job creation, remain competitive, and extensively put Durban on the map. He said this includes creative industry players who utilise their talent to fly the City’s flag high.  All winners walked away with an international study tour worth R100 000.  The winners of the exceptional category are as follows.  Shakila Maharaj who founded and Chaired the Inclusive Tourism Forum was honoured under Product Owners with Disabilities.  The Living Room Summer Hill Estate was honoured under Hospitality.  The Investment Award was given to Carlos Correia for the leading multibillion-rand Westown development.

A hidden gem located in Inanda called Isilokazi, which is a 4-star venue hire and lodge, won under Township and Rural Development.

Black Coffee, Zakes Bantwini, Nomcebo Zikode, and Nomzamo Mbatha were hounoured for their roles in the creative sector.

Zoé Pillay – For the prosperity of the City!