First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has hailed the tourism sector as the best employer of women while officiating at the launch of the national chapter of “Women in Tourism” in Harare today.
“Globally, tourism is a sector having the highest share of women employment with 49% of the workforce in hotels and restaurants, however most of them assuming lower ranks, according to UNWTO. The establishment of Women in Tourism gives women an opportunity to be masters of their own destiny and be able to run their businesses sustainably, create employment and sustain livelihoods, Mrs Mnangagwa said.
The women in tourism desk is aimed at integrating women from different backgrounds and spectrum within the sector to further a common goal of socio and economic development. It also gives the platform for effective networking and knowledge sharing. Women participation in mainstream economy is key to the development of the nation.
Mrs Mnangagwa said there is need for women to create synergies with their male counterparts at provincial level and share ideas and experiences. This will facilitate tourism development at provincial and ward level, with effective communication from the top to grassroots level and vice versa.
Women were urged to customise their products to the current environment in order to remain fashionable and competitive in every sphere. They were called upon to bridge the gap between emerging and existing entrepreneurs. Previously the focus was to produce for family consumption but today there is a call to have a broader scope, looking at how much their businesses as women are contributing the economy.
Woman participation in the economy has been raised to a higher level where tourism structures are encouraged at national, regional and international levels. Zimbabwe had an opportunity to attend the UNWTO Commission for Africa Meeting which was held in Nigeria last year. Women empowerment in the tourism sector was a topical issue for discussion. Key issues raised during deliberations include:-
- Appointment of an African Leadership Taskforce for Women in Tourism;
- Introduction of Women in Tourism Empowerment Programmes to improve employment and entrepreneurship opportunities;
- Provision of career advancement for women in the tourism sector;
- Hosting a Regional Congress on Women Empowerment in Africa in the Tourism Sector with the inaugural Congress being held in Accra Ghana in 2019; and
- Publishing of the Second Edition of the Global Report on Women in Tourism (2019).
With this in place, Women in Tourism were challenged to take up businesses in tourism to a higher level by competing with other women at regional and international level.
“This can only be achieved if we maintain our oneness. Let us thrive to excel in whatever we are doing so that the Zimbabwe Women in Tourism success story can be heard across the globe. My hope in future is to host the Regional Congress on Women Empowerment in Africa creating an opportunity for networking, sharing experiences and expand the business horizon,” Mrs Mnangagwa added.
Prisca Mupfumira, the tourism minister, said Zimbabwe has made positive strides in being covered by international media organisations and respected institutions around the subjects of sustainable tourism as a destination as well as responsible tourism.
Mupfumira said the contribution of the tourism industry to the economy was well above the 1 Billion Dollar mark and to this end women played a significant role in that historic achievement.
“It is our wish to see more contributions and activities coming from women in the sector and through these initiatives, Your Excellency, we are confident of an even bigger contribution,” Mupfumira said.