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 April 02, 2014
South African Tourism Celebrates Freedom & Democracy At 2014 Ubuntu Awards In New York City

 South African Tourism, the official tourism board for South Africa, held its 2014 Ubuntu Awards in the heart of New York City at Gotham Hall on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA) co-founders and acclaimed actors, Alfre Woodard and Blair Underwood, accepted the "Friend of South Africa Award" on behalf of ANSA in honor of the organization's dedicated pursuit of social justice and equality in South Africa -- U.S. Correspondent for South African Broadcasting Corporation, Sherwin Bryce-Pease, served as Master of Ceremonies. Hon. Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa's Minister of Tourism, delivered the keynote address with distinguished guests including Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa's Ambassador to the U.S. and GRAMMY-nominated South African musician, Jonathan Butler in attendance.

Now in its fifth year, the annual Ubuntu Awards recognizes South African Tourism's outstanding trade partners in business and leisure travel and celebrates South Africa's approaching 20th anniversary of freedom and democracy. The overarching theme of the event, "Ubuntu" is derived from an African philosophy that speaks to the interconnectedness of our people. It is the essence of being human -- "I am because you are." This belief is the very spirit of the Ubuntu Awards, which was filled with heartfelt tributes to South Africa's greatest father, Nelson Mandela and his remarkable journey to freedom. As South Africa's former president and champion of the anti-apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela opened up South Africa to the rest of the world, making it the welcoming and worthwhile tourist destination it is today.

Minister van Schalkwyk infused his keynote address with record-breaking statistics that highlighted South Africa's remarkable achievements over the past two decades, and past year especially. In thanking the individuals and organizations who have helped cement South Africa's position as a world-class travel destination, Minister van Schalkwyk emphasized the inherent value of partnerships and collaborations as key to the destination's success.

"In the past 20 eventful years, we have gone from a little known wildlife destination -- serving mainly a domestic market and shunned by the rest of the world -- to one of the fastest growing and most visible tourism destinations in the world today," stated Minister van Schalkwyk. "As the U.S. remains our second largest source for overseas tourist arrivals -- with figures outpacing even overall global tourism growth in 2012 -- we are certainly indebted to the collaborative efforts of the people gathered in this room for our destination's extraordinary success in this market to date."

The event also included new updates on South African Tourism's "What's Your BIG 5?" campaign; a 360-degree platform to promote South Africa's endless array of rich and diverse travel offerings, beyond its iconic safari. Championed by the loveable digital giraffe mascot, Zandi, the campaign's latest rollout is the newly-redesigned South African Tourism website, making it easier for consumers and travel agents to plan and book their next visit to South Africa tailored to their own unique interests and preferences.

"Our 'What's Your BIG 5?' platform continues to break barriers in transforming the way key stakeholders and consumers view our destination" said Sthu Zungu, President of South African Tourism North America. "With strategic marketing, advertising, public relations and social media activations in place, we have no doubt that this campaign will dramatically increase South Africa's desirability as an accessible and worthwhile holiday destination among U.S. travelers."

The Friend of South Africa Award was presented to ANSA for its immense contributions to the South African nation. ANSA is dedicated to supporting South Africa's quest for democracy and freedom through various philanthropic initiatives and visible thought leaders in the arts and entertainment community, appropriately garnering it special recognition at this year's ceremony.

In other categories, the award for Top Producing Tour Operator went to Lion World Travel and Grand Circle, followed by the award for Top Producing Online Tour Operator, which went to Orbitz. The award for Top Producing Airline was given to South African Airways; Best Value for Money Packages to Grand Circle; Outstanding Achievement in Strategic Partnerships was awarded to Swain Destinations; Outstanding Achievement in Creative Partnerships went to RA Travel; Outstanding Achievement in a Group Travel Program was awarded to Far Horizons; and AIMA was recognized for Outstanding Achievement in Incentive Travel Programs.

The complete list of awards and award recipients is as follows:

- Top Producing Tour Operator -- Lion World Travel and Grand Circle Travel
- Top Producing Online Tour Operator -- Orbitz
- Top Producing Airline -- South African Airways
- Best Value for Money Packages -- Grand Circle Travel
- Outstanding Achievement in Strategic Partnerships -- Swain Destinations
- Outstanding Achievement in Creative Partnerships -- RA Travel
- Outstanding Achievement in a Group Travel Program -- Far Horizons
- Outstanding Achievement in Incentive Travel Programs -- AIMA
- Friend of South Africa Award -- Artists For A New South Africa (ANSA)

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