Women In Tourism Botswana (WIT) in collaboration with Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone, recently hosted the inaugural annual Women In Tourism high tea symposium in commemoration of Women's month.
Sponsored by Botswana Tourism Organisation and supported by Echo Newspaper, The Voice Newspaper, King on Media, Sunset Bird Travel and Messidior Investments , the symposium aimed to celebrate women’s advancement in the tourism and hospitality sector particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her keynote address at the event, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Philda Kereng congratulated the event’s stakeholders for organizing an occasion that allows women in the industry to converse and find ways to become bigger players and get into positions of power. She recognised the efforts of Women In Tourism Botswana and Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone towards giving recognition to what she said is now a very delicate industry.
“This event is coming at the time when we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic, for us to be here as the stakeholders shows that we remain resilient for the progress of the industry. Notably, women make the majority of the sector's work force at about 60% however they hold lower level of leadership positions in majority, therefore empowering women in this sector is advancement of women in leadership too. This event comes at a good time as we celebrating women,” she said.
Kereng also said that the presence of industry players at the event demonstrates in boldness that women are indeed capable of leading the tourism sector. She further said the nation has a responsibility to empower more women and encourage them to up-skill
In addition, HATAB CEO Lily Rakorong said there is need to create platform for women in tourism, take feedback for the advancement of the sector. Rakorong indicated that women make up the majority of the tourism workforce worldwide, and therefore are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the high numbers of women employment in the sector both internationally and here at home, it goes to show that women have felt the economic shock to Tourism caused by the COVID-19 pandemic the quickest and hardest. The impact of COVID-19 are unprecedented and an urgent inclusive response is needed to ensure that women are not left behind,” she said.
Meanwhile, Botswana Tourism Organisation Executive Manager Marketing Keitumetse Setlang said
whilst women make up the highest percentage of the workforce in tourism, they tend to be highly concentrated at the bottom of the ladder, where they still play a very important role.
Setlang urged the women to take advantage and learn speedily from the capable men in the tourism sector.
In conclusion, Women In Tourism Botswana President Bokani Mathape said there is a need to get as many women into decision making positions, to be able to assist and find solutions to issues that affect them. She said their mandate as an organization is to form a solid network of women in the tourism sector, through mentoring and empowering the women in the industry.