The word ubuntu connotes the essence of being human, the fact that one can’t exist as a human being in isolation. However, the word may soon become a synonym for the Academy Awards, at least for the ministers, staffers, and fans of the South African Tourism Ministry.
Amid orchids and candlelight, overlooking New York City’s Central Park, South African Tourism held its second annual Ubuntu Awards at the St. Regis Hotel and this year honored its business and leisure trade partners. (Photo by Teresa Clarke)
Guests were welcomed by H.E. Ebrahim Rasool, South African Ambassador to the United States; South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Marthinus van Schalkwyk; the CEO of South African Tourism, Ambassador Thandiwe January-Mclean, and the host for the evening, Sthu Zungu, president of South African Tourism, North America.
The South African officials had a lot to celebrate, successfully hosting the most profitable World Cup Games in history. They were happy to present South African Tourism’s Leadership Ubuntu Award to the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Sunil Gulati, in recognition of his exemplary work in raising the profile of soccer in the U.S., and building a strong American team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
In fact, the United States accounted for the largest number of tickets sold outside of Africa, over 125,000, for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. ESPN and Univision viewership for the World Cup final totaled 24.3 million viewers, which made it the most watched soccer game in U.S. television, and an incomparable platform for South Africa.
The officials are not content to rest on last year’s success, however. In his formal remarks, Mr. van Schalkwyk, outlined his country’s ambitious goals for the next decade.
Tourism now represents eight percent of South Africa’s gross domestic product but the goal is to more than double that number by 2020 so that tourism brings in some R499 billion (US $73 billion).
“Our goals are to welcome 15 million tourist arrivals by 2020…and to create 225,000 new job opportunities in the sector,” stated Minister Van Schalkwyk. “We are committed to private/public sector partnerships to achieve this growth, both domestically in South Africa and with our trade partners globally.”
The Minister is confident that South Africa can achieve those goals because so many young people were among the 280,000 American visitors in 2010. He hopes that they will come back often with their family and friends, particularly now that South Africa is playing an increasingly important role on the world’s political and economic stages.
The complete list of awards and their recipients included:
- Top Producing Tour Operator, 2010: Lucille Sive, President, Lion World Tours and Julian Harrison, President, Premier Tours
- Top Travel Management Company: Priscilla Alexander, President, Pro Travel International
- Outstanding Achievement in Creative Marketing: Kenneth Heiber, President, 2Afrika
- Outstanding Achievement in Innovative Programs: Gene & Ja’Vonne Harley, Owners, Advantage International
- Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Tours: Ndela Edwards, President, E-Z Tours
- Outstanding Achievement in Destination Promotion by a DMC: Laura Howell, Tusker Tours and Philippa Durrant, Dragonfly Africa
- Best Airline: Michael Page, Vice President-Sales, Emirates
- Philanthropic Achievement: Marianne Schaubeck, President, Reservations Africa
- Leadership Award: Sunil Gulati President, US Soccer Federation