How do we empower women businesses in the tourism sector? Day one at World Travel Market for Gauteng Tourism Authority

Cape Town, 04 April 2023

Day One overview at World Travel Market

Yesterday’s first day of World Travel Market at the Cape Town International Convention Centre was the linkage of businesses, policymakers, Government representatives and buyers. Here’s a snapshot of the activities and happenings at WTMA 23 Day One.

How do we empower women businesses in the tourism sector?

Speaking on the Global Stage on a panel by the African Investment Tourism Summit, our CEO Sthembiso Dlamini featured on a panel to talk about Women in Tourism in Africa.

In response to fascinating questions on access to markets for women, funding opportunities, availability of Government support and the overall landscape for women in tourism, here are some thoughts from our CEO during the discussion.

“We know that we {women} are reduced to housekeeping and reception. My colleague in an earlier panel made a good statement. We should not be called Tourism. People think it’s about baking, its about food. Those things are important to form part of experience. We’ve got lawyers, data scientists, people who deal with investment facilitation, within the tourism industry. You see people now saying “I’m a CA but now in the tourism industry” They are brokering deals for the industry. Howcome we are not thinking of changing either the curriculum around tourism and we also begin to talk about the value chain of tourism. As an example Civial Aviation Authority the CEO is a woman. ACSA the group CEO is a woman; so it’s us beginning to talk about tourism in its broader sense. As opposed to, ‘I had a good meal at a nice restaurant.’”

“Let’s talk about that important of that value chain. And I think that’s where we begin to change the mindset of also us as Government starting to take tourism seriously. How do we change that. The Starting point is capacity building. We really have to start looking at what are those programmes that we need to start putting into place. The second thing for me is that we need to start simplifying the jargon we use when we talk about investment. So if you say to a women from Giyani Limpopo “Your problem is not funding it’s equity; I don’t know what that means.” All I know is that I have an establishment and we can create footfall but I also don’t know if that’s a bankable project. We need to simplify the terms in investment projects.”

“If you look at Portugal as an example, tourism is 10% of their economy. Every function of Government look at at how they can enable tourism, and at how they can enable women to be the leaders in tourism; because they know that they can actually double their contribution to the GDP. We need to be serious about it. Let’s stop calling it tourism. We need ideas because we are bigger than that.”

“Within the economic development space we’ve got an agency called the Gauteng Economic Propeller; it’s a development finance institution that looks specifically at funding SMEs whether it’s grant or contract financing, or supporting other projects. As a province we have built that capability to assist our women-owned SMEs but also a province we are the first to introduce an Act called the Township Development Act. This is to drive Economic development in the townships. Mostly in townships you will find women-owned businesses. So I think Government has put together those institutions to assist with financing. However, I think that what needs to be done is the placement of targets or ring-fenced amounts of funding that is available to women. I don’t know if that is constitutionally correct but I think that if we are serious about escalating and elevating women owned businesses then we should start thinking about this.”

Look out for our next blog post on our activities from Day 2 at World Travel Market.

Gauteng Tourism broadly carries a dual mandate: on the one hand to position Gauteng as a globally desired destination through its marketing and promotion efforts and on the other, to manage Gauteng as a globally competitive destination through ensuring that it is a value – for – money destination and ensuring that it develops products that respond to tourist demands.

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