By Daniel Chigundu
FIRST-LADY Auxillia Mnangagwa has applauded the formation of Women in Tourism National Chapter (WTNC) adding that women have the capacity to make a difference in the tourism sector if they are given the opportunity considering that they constitute a huge percent of global tourism workforce.
Though women constitute about 49 percent of the global workforce in the tourism sector, they are however found mostly on the lower ranks a development which is said to have prevented them from effectively benefitting from the sector.
Speaking at the launch of WTNC, the First Lady said women’s efforts have been visible adding that they were only not organised enough to push their cause with one voice.
“The formation of the Women in Tourism National Chapter was long overdue. Women in Zimbabwe are known to be hardworking and given the opportunity, they can do wonders and made a difference. What was required is to get organized and have a standing structure to proffer an effective channel of communication in order to promote and inspire entrepreneurship in the tourism sector.
“This structure 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.
“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,” she said.
Mrs Mnangagwa urged WTNC executive leaders to exhibit maximum dedication and willingness to the cause of women who have selected them to be leaders adding that “therefore, be prepared to delivery and stand for others in every situation for the benefit of Women in Tourism.
“I would like to commend the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry for coming up with this initiative which is aimed at driving programs that support the development and empowerment of women in the tourism sector.
“Programs for mentorship and trainings should also be introduced in order to enhance scope and capabilities. It is within our interests as Government to help women run sustainable tourism businesses that will compete regionally and globally,” said Mrs Mnangagwa.
She said women should make use of the opportunities availed to by Government and prove that they are indeed able and capable of turning around the economy.
The WTNC executive was also warned against corruption, self-centredness and selective in the discharge of their roles.
“Remember you were entrusted by other women as their representatives, consultations before coming up with a position is critical. Avoid being self-centred and selective, we want information to cascade effectively to those who matter. The benefits of tourism should be shared fairly across all communities for effective improvement of livelihoods.
“We expect orderliness and speak with one voice so that you can be heard. The Government is willing to work with you and assist you in every endeavour,” First Lady said.
Women in Tourism were also challenged to take up tourism businesses to a higher level so that they can compete with other women at a 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.
“In conclusion, I would like to once again congratulate the members of the Women in Tourism National Chapter and the Provincial Chapter. We are with you and our door is open to hearing more from you. We look forward to receiving success stories and continued engagements,” she said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira said women played a significant role in the tourism sector in 2019, adding that they are expected to do more in 2019.
“…our total contribution as the tourism industry was well above the 1 billion dollar mark and to this end, women played a significant role in this historic achievement.
“It is our wish to see more contributions and activities coming from women in the sector and through these initiatives ….we are confident of an even bigger contribution.
“At the beginning of 2019, My Ministry collaborated with Women in Tourism to send a delegation to one of the biggest travel fairs in the World, Fitiur Travel Fair, which took place in Spain. The women who travelled with us have phenomenal feedback about the new business that was created while exhibiting and engaging in Spain. We endeavour to have more women doing tourism business globally and this is the first step in expanding the sector,” she said.