RETOSA completes 3rd ‘Women in Tourism’ Conference in Centurion / South Africa


(Posted 02nd December 2016)

BUILDING CONFIDENCE, CAPACITY AND PROVISION OF CAPITAL TO OUR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS‘ was the theme of the third RETOSA supported such conference, which attracted over 300 participants from across the organization’s member countries but also notably from Kenya, Nigeria, Russia and Japan. In his opening remarks did the Chairperson for the RETOSA Board Dr. Sem Shikongo described women as natural leaders who are strategic, passionate, entrepreneurial, life givers and transmitters of knowledge and wisdom. In line with the theme of the Women in Tourism Conference, Dr. Sem Shikongo encouraged participants, and women at large, to move from focusing on costly projects to locally driven development under Community Based Tourism Projects when he said: ‘We need to empower communities to make their own decisions and also capitalize on our comparative advantages as well as understand market structure within which we want to play‘.

Also speaking during the Women in Tourism conference, the Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Honourable Anastancia Ndhlovu had this to say, ‘Women have a big role to play in tourism and this is a low hanging fruit in almost all our countries after our leaders in the region have given it prominence as one of the key drivers to add value to the economic revival agenda of all SADC countries in a sustainable way‘.
The Deputy Minister Department of Tourism South Africa, Honourable Tokozile Xabaalso shared her sentiments about the need to look into further development for women in tourism and to integrate big events together as women constitute the majority numbers in the tourism industry, ‘Women command a majority of numbers in the tourism sector‘ she said.

Southern Africa Women in Tourism Conference 2016 took place at a time when individuals and organisations around the world are campaigning to eliminate violence against women and girls and can be seen under the auspices of 16 days of activism against gender- based violence. The Regional Programme Director for Africa UNWTO Africa Ms. Elcia Grandcourt spoke about the need to address women’s economic disadvantage in Africa and the urgency to right the present inequality faced by women.

Organised by the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa, the Southern Africa Women in Tourism Conference provided an opportunity for women in the sector to network and share ideas on how to embark on new business and how to grow existing business. SAWIT is unique in the sense that it focuses on different programmes to ensure successful development and empowerment of women in tourism business.Some of the issues which were discussed during 2016 conference included:

  • · Religious Tourism in Southern Africa and the opportunities for women.
  • · Sustainable tourism, arts, crafts and culture opportunities for Southern Africa Women in Tourism.
  • · Sustainable Tourism Development value chain linkages; opportunities for women in both rural and urban.
  • · Access to the market through social media marketing and digital marketing.
  • · Access to funding on opportunities for Southern Africa Women in Tourism.

This year’s conference has gone a notch higher as it also included Fashion Designers showcasing their designs and an exhibition running concurrently with the conference.

RETOSA is the tourism implementing agency for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Its primary objective is to facilitate and promote tourism growth and development in Southern Africa. RETOSA’s member states, in alphabetical order, are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.