RETOSA Hosts 3rd Annual Southern Africa Women In Tourism Conference

RETOSA hosted its third Southern Africa Women in Tourism Conference from 28 to 30 November 2016 at Velmore Hotel Estate in Centurion, South Africa. This year’s theme was “BUILDING CONFIDENCE, CAPACITY AND PROVISION OF CAPITAL TO OUR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS”.

Dr Sem Shikongo, Chairperson of RETOSA’s Board, opened the conference and described women as natural leaders who are strategic, passionate, entrepreneurial, life-givers and transmitters of knowledge and wisdom. He encouraged women to move from focusing on costly projects to locally-driven developments that form part of community-based tourism projects. “We need to empower communities to make their own decisions and also capitalize on our comparative advantages as well as to understand the market structure within which we want to play,” he said.

Also speaking during the Women in Tourism conference, the Zimbabwean Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Honourable Anastancia Ndhlovu had this to say: “Women have a big role to play in tourism, especially considering the prominence it has been given by SADC leaders as one of the key drivers to add value to the economic revival of all countries in the region”. The Deputy Minister from the Department of Tourism in South Africa, Honourable Tokozile Xasa present at the conference, also shared her sentiments about the need to look into further development for women in tourism and to integrate big events as women constitute the majority in the tourism industry.

This conference took place at a time when individuals and organisations around the world were campaigning to eliminate violence against women and girls. Additionally  The Regional Programme Director for Africa, UNWTO Africa, Ms Marie-Alise Elcia Grandcourt spoke about the need to address women’s economic disadvantages in Africa and the need to address the inequalities faced by women.

The conference provided an excellent opportunity for the delegates to network and share ideas on how to embark on new business ventures as well as how to grow existing business. SAWIT is unique in the sense that it focuses on various different programmes to ensure the successful development and empowerment of women in the tourism industry. Some of the issues discussed during the 2016 conference included:

  • religious tourism in Southern Africa and the opportunities these would create for women;
  • sustainable tourism, arts, crafts and cultural opportunities for southern African women in tourism;
  • sustainable tourism development and the various opportunities for women in both rural and urban areas;
  • access to the market through social media marketing and digital marketing; and
  • access to funding opportunities for southern African women in tourism.

It wasn’t all serious work though. This year’s conference went a step further as fashion designers showcased their designs and an exhibition ran concurrently with the conference. Delegates also enjoyed being entertained by some of South Africa’s finest performing artists.

Last modified onThursday, 15 December 2016 08:32
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