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The 2014 World Tourism Day event hosted by Northern Cape Tourism made history by becoming the first World Tourism event in South Africa to be awarded a Gold Loerie. The award was made at the 37th Annual Loerie Awards in Durban on 16 August 2015.

“We are absolutely thrilled by this award in the category Live Events,” said Northern Cape MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, John Block.

In 2014, the Northern Cape’s Hakskeen Pan, one of the most remote and arid destinations in South Africa, was selected as the location for the event.

“Northern Cape Tourism wanted a spectacular event for the audience of approximately 3 500 people and commissioned the creation of a play named The Desert Comes Alive. We needed to involve the local community in all aspects of this event from logistics to catering and security. By getting one of South Africa’s leading event management agencies, namely Witch and Wizard Productions, to manage this event, we created both a spectacular event and allowed the local community to share economically in hosting a large event of this nature,” said Block.

Sharon Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Cape Tourism said: “An event of this magnitude would not have been possible without the financial assistance of the national Department of Tourism under the leadership of visionary Minister Derek Hanekom and Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas.

“We have demonstrated our ability to create truly magnificent events in South Africa and, in a way, it was the perfect precursor for the upcoming Bloodhound project next year during which an attempt will be made to do more than 1 600 kph in a car.”

Upon receipt of the award, Witch and Wizard Productions CEO Jermaine Besten said: “Our partnership with the tourism industry, in particular Northern Cape Tourism and South African Tourism, runs over more than 10 years and I would like to believe that we have the expertise to exceed expectations on events of this magnitude. Through the magnificent activation of this event, Northern Cape Tourism has indeed set the bar very high for other provincial tourism authorities to match with upcoming World Tourism Day events … in future years.”

What made this activation truly unique was that a massive ship of the desert was constructed on the back of a flatbed truck. The ship’s mast held two huge sails, which were used as projection surfaces while the ship was in motion. The ship was hidden from sight beyond the horizon during the day. A moonless night set the scene for the play. Using industrial-sized microlight engine fans and special effects dust and smoke machines, a dust storm was created 30m high x 70m wide.

This was the third consecutive year that Witch and Wizard Productions was a Loerie finalist in the Live Events category, but it was its first win in that time amid stiff competition from other large advertising agencies in South Africa. The last time Witch and Wizard Productions won a Loerie award was in 2011.