Tourism industry prioritises for women to thrive in business

Tourism industry prioritises for women to thrive in business

The Department of Tourism is currently implementing the Enterprise Development Support Programme as one of its strategic programmes that facilitate the growth and sustainability of tourism SMEs.

This according to Minister Patricia De Lille, is part of the department’ strategies to empower woman and to allow them to be seen and heard in their contribution to the sector.

The  minister was speaking during the department’s  hosted Women in Tourism networking breakfast session on the side-lines of Africa’s Travel Indaba trade show in KwaZulu-Natal at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC). 

“In South Africa, August month holds great significance for our nation as we celebrate women’s achievements, not only on a single day, but throughout the month. The 09th of August is also a day to remind us of gender equality, of which the tourism sector has been a female-dominated environment for many years.” said the minister.

When the Department initiated the Women in Tourism Programme, the aim was to drive the inclusion of women entrepreneurs in the industry, Minister De Lille said.

“Our aim is to enhance the development and empowerment of women in the tourism sector, initiatives under the programme include training on personal development, supporting women to develop a competitive advantage in their businesses and provision of capacity building initiatives.”

The minister said that more women were moving into tourism and hospitality as owners and stakeholders, as well as running tourism authorities and industry associations. She further said that there were enormous opportunities now for women in this industry and those brands that understand the value of women in leadership positions are now relying on them even more as the sector recovers from the pandemic.

“The good news is that overall, the tourism sector positively promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment, and the gender wage gap is narrower in tourism than it is in the broader economy at the global level.” she said.

De Lille further  said she was pleased to see that there has been establishment of chapters in all nine provinces, to mobilise women in the industry to address identified challenges and gaps in the tourism value chain.

“I understand that each chapter also has to present its Programme of Action to the Department and provide their annual report to their members. This is something I am very interested in seeing and engaging you on because this will tell us how sisters are doing it for themselves by connecting various women tourism businesses with the government to conquer mountains and succeed as we know we can”, said Minister de Lille. 

While in some countries, the share of women’s employment in tourism roughly mirrors the percentage of women’s employment in the broader economy, there are sizable differences in others. Tourism often serves as a first entry point to the world of work, while many of the positions held by women are service or clerical jobs, characterised by long working hours, subcontracting, and seasonal variations in employment.

Statistics from the United Tourism World Organisation (UNWTO) show that although women make up the majority of employment in the tourism industry, and besides them being well represented in service and clerical level jobs, they are represented poorly at professional levels and in leadership positions.

“Through Women in Tourism Capacity Building Initiatives, the department in partnership with SA Tourism and the private sector, has also assisted 450 Women-owned tourism SMMEs. The Department of Tourism is also implementing the Enterprise Development Support Programme as one of its strategic programmes that facilitate the growth and sustainability of tourism SMEs.”, concluded Minister de Lille.

Through the Women in Tourism Programmes, the Department of Tourism, together with its partners has managed to empower 225 women with Business Management Training and Mentorship initiatives for the growth of their businesses. The purpose of this is to implement a programme that will provide non-financial support to women-owned tourism sector businesses for a period of one year.