Tourism: How women can make a difference

TOURISM is one of the sectors that is making meaningful contributions to the gross domestic products of most governments in the world.

United Nations World Tourism Organisation Annual Report for 2015 indicated that in 2014, the sector contributed US$1,44 billion in Zimbabwe, which is 10,4 percent of the country’s GDP.

The UNWTO Annual Report further indicated that tourism generated 181 000 jobs directly, which is 3,1 percent of total employment and expected a 2,0 percent growth in 2015 to 184 500 jobs, which is 3,16 percent of total employment.

Responsible tourism calls for the improvement of people’s lives.

There has been a wide gap between men, women and children in developmental issues.

Save for politics, most African societies have been discriminatory against women and the youth.

As a result, that cultural trend has been weakening the probability of women getting established in economic circles.

It is high time tourism is used as a tool to address the economic gender imbalance by empowering women and children.

Women constitute the largest number of the tourism workforce.

While most women serve as low grade personnel, extreme cases have seen some of them going unpaid, especially in family businesses.

The fairer gender has been reluctant to empower the lesser gender.

The first and foremost gesture that the tourism sector should do to economically empower the women and children is to educate them.

They should come to know that tourism is not all about large game parks, large hotels, large restaurants and large tourism resorts but the small-scale industry that can be operated in one’s villages.

This gesture is hindered by the African cultural aspect, which usually rules out women from owning traditional land in their own name, unless one inherits the land from a deceased husband or buys land in urban set up.

It is in this scope that the tourism sector should formulate policies which ensure that women as well as children are regarded as key stakeholders in tourism businesses.

At least formal and organised training in tourism should be prioritised to women.

Even if economic opportunities arise, without proper education in the trade, there is no way that women and the youth can be empowered.

To achieve this, public-private partnerships should be established.

Central government should formulate policy that guide such partnership and help identify private partners who are willing to promote women in tourism.

Local government as the secondary public partner should do infrastructure development in order link villages with the rest of the world. The private partners, especially non-governmental organisations, should help in funding capacity building programmes.

This year’s Zimbabwe edition of the Great Limpopo Cultural Fair shall set the ball rolling in empowering women in tourism. Running under the theme: “Promoting women through culture, conservation and value addition,” the regional fair shall be unique in two ways.

First, Great Limpopo Cultural Fair has been officially incorporated on the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority calendar.

Secondly, it shall be held in a rural setup at Mhlanguleni Business Centre in Chiredzi South.

Reasons for holding it in a rural setup include empowering rural women in society and promoting rural tourism.

Centre for Cultural Development Initiative and Chiredzi Rural District Council, who are The Great Limpopo Cultural Fair’s development partners, indicated that the programme is tailor-made for the rural poor.

Co-ordinator for CCDI in Chiredzi, Mr Hebert Hasani Phikela, said: “Our business conference shall focus on empowering women in tourism.

“They shall be trained in livestock production, crafts, crop production and food processing.”

According to CCDI, women are already involved in the activities but lack basic training in how to make the product a tourism package.

“Ilala palm wine is exclusive to the south east Lowveld of Zimbabwe.

“People are importing a lot of wine while we can reduce the import bill by putting our own products on the market.

Tourists to Ganarezhou National Park and other conservancies like Bubye, Chiredzi River, Malilangwe, Senuko and many others should visit our rural areas to get a treat of our traditional products,” continued Mr Phikela.

“Four countries, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa have confirmed their participation at this year’s edition.

“We shall have a diverse of ideas from participating countries. Indeed, women can make difference in tourism” concluded Mr Phikela. — MP.

Source: Zimbabwe Daily