The profound after-shock on tourism wrought by Covid 19 should not be taken as a signal of defeat, says organiser of the annual Wine & Food Tourism Awards, Margi Biggs. “As traumatic and disruptive as the effects have been on the entire tourism industry supply chain, there is a lot we can do to improve our offerings, their accessibility and the way they are executed. The show can and must go on, albeit in a different way. South Africans are remarkably resilient and responsive to change. Time and again we’ve proved to be survivalists. Now, if we accept that domestic tourism will take precedence and we remain calm and focused about it, opportunities will prevail.

“So, very much as a mark of confidence in South Africa’s tourism future we are calling for entries for this year’s Wine & Food Tourism Awards, established to inspire and promote local wine, food and hospitality in a variety of categories. These include the authentic South African experience, innovation in concepts, products and services, and then our newest category, the WWF Conservation Leadership Award introduced to reward those who excel in addressing the issue of sustainability in all they do.”

Sponsored by WWF South Africa through funding provided by Pamela and Neville Isdell, the award highlights the critical role of eco and social sustainability in the development and execution of relevant, appealing and competitive travel offerings. “As far as the sustainability category is concerned, I can think of no greater accolade for sustainability award honourees than to be endorsed by WWF-SA, earning each of them the title of WWF Conservation Leader.”

Biggs said that given lockdown constraints this year, it would not be possible to keep the category for service excellence. “For obvious reasons, our judges are not able to visit competing establishments, nor can they evaluate service levels. This is a temporary situation and the category will be restored when conditions in the industry normalise.”

Entries can be submitted now until 31 July. Submissions will be assessed by a panel of seasoned experts chaired by Jean-Pierre Rossouw, publisher of Rossouw’s Restaurants and the Platter’s South African Wine Guide.

Biggs said that up to three honourees would be named for each Wine & Food Tourism Award category on 22 September via online broadcast with final details to be communicated closer to the time.

For more information on the terms and conditions for entry in the Wine & Food Tourism Conference Awards, go to https://wineandfood.co.za/awards/.

Note to the editor: The judges of this year’s Wine & Food Tourism Awards are marketing specialists Su Birch, Mac Mabidilala and Steve Massey, Belinda Lamprecht (luxury travel), Glen Christie (luxury hospitality), Pearl Oliver (sommelier), Nancy Richards (environmental and lifestyle journalist), Janet Pillai (strategist, academic and travel entrepreneur), Darryl Earl David (academic and heritage conservation activist) and Maryna Callow (wine communications).