#WomensMonth: Tourism needs more women to take the lead

2017-08-24 13:29 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town – Women have been playing a major role in the tourism sector for decades, with more currently taking the lead by moving into management roles or becoming entrepreneurs in the industry.

However, the growth of women within the industry is still far from the level at which the National Department of Tourism hopes it will be.

The Department of Tourism highlights that the 2011 State of Transformation study showed that participation by women in the corporate sector, especially black women was below gazetted targets – with approximately 90% of enterprises not complying to the 10% Black female shareholding.

In an effort to elevate women in tourism, Minister Xasa launched the “30in5” campaign at Indaba 2017 to mobilise active transformation to attain the “30% target for women participation at executive level in tourism within the next five years”.

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This Women’s Month, SA’s first female Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa visited tourism establishments in the Western Cape, to get a better perspective of how women are entrenched in management roles in the tourism sector.

Xasa visited 4Roomed Kasi Experience and Lungi’s B & B which are both entrepreneurial initiatives situated in Khayelitsha, as well as the Park Inn Hotel by Radisson in Newlands where a majority of the staff are women, with a track record of excelling in management roles.

Another aim of her visit was to highlight the need for increased participation and representation of women executives in the sector. “Our tourism industry has the highest number of women,” says Xasa, “but they are mostly at the entry level, with less than 5% proceeding into executive development posts”.

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Xasa emphasised the need for “increased participation and representation of women executives in the sector”.

“As we celebrate Women’s month under the national theme - The Year of OR Tambo: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward, it is critical for us to be mindful of the vital role played by women executives in advancing our economy, especially through tourism,” says Xasa.

More women occupying executive positions

Xasa emphasised that tourism is a key driver of the country’s economy, with an “immense potential to fast track radical and economic transformation.”

“With a workforce comprised largely by women operating at the lower levels of the value chain, it is incumbent on our sector to lead the process of gender diversity and transformation that will result in more women occupying executive positions,” says Xasa.

SEE: 3 Ways new Tourism Minister Xasa wants to transform SA's 'tourism treasure chest'

At the Park Inn Hotel by Radisson in Newlands, a majority of the staff are women, with ten women occupying managerial positions. In addition to this, the hotel places importance on inclusivity and is one of a few that employs hearing impaired staff in the hotel industry.

“It is encouraging to see establishments such as Park Inn Hotel by Radisson rally behind empowering women, and the hearing impaired. Tourism is for everyone, and this hotel is a great example of the inclusiveness that we hope to achieve in the sector,” said Xasa.

In Khayelitsha - at 4Roomed eKasi Culture owned by Abigail Mbalo-Mokoena, and Lungi’s BnB owned by Nomalungelo Sotyingwa - visitors get to experience a slice of family life and culture in a South African Township, thanks to the offerings of these to creative and savvy women entrepreneurs.

“I met dynamic women who started their businesses with limited resources, but leveraged on their innate abilities to bring a unique and fresh perspective to conducting business in the industry,” says Xasa.

Check out how women are thriving in tourism in Cape Town and how the Department of Tourism aims to foster growth of women in the industry:

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