Hafsa Obeng, GNA
Accra, Dec. 4, GNA – Mr Ronald Chitotela, Chairperson of the UNWTO Regional Commission of Africa, has said it was incumbent on Africans to lead the process of gender diversity and transformation that would result in more women getting involved in the development of the tourism sector.
He said women play a very important role in the development of sustainable tourism, however, their involvement is largely at a lower level in the value chain, hence the need for mainstreaming gender inequality consideration in national tourism policies and plans.
“At the centre of the transformation is the development and implementation of government policies that aims at addressing gender equality in the tourism sector. Gender equality and the mainstreaming for the tourism sector are for women empowerment and must be backed by the institutional and budgetary support.”
Mr Chitotela, who is also the Minister of Tourism and Arts of the Republic of Zambia, said this at the opening of the first regional congress on women empowerment in the tourism sector in Accra.
He said there is also the need for Africans to reaffirm their commitment and push for the development of sustainable tourism, which could be done through the adoption of a sound continental tourism strategic framework with a view to enhance the competitiveness of the sector and the establishment of an African brand.
This agenda could also be achieved if stakeholders are able to tell the African tourism story and work together towards making tourism a key driver to socio economic development for the continent.
He said tourism would become one of the fastest growing economic sector adding that the business volume of tourism equals that of the oil export, and food production.
He said tourism has become one of the major belts in the international economy and represents one of the main income sources for many developing countries.
Mr Chitotela African women are drivers of the tourism development in Africa, adding that Africa could tell its own development story if Africans themselves become tourists.
Mrs Barbara Oteng Gyasi, Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, said tourism has become a global and thriving competitive socio economic and environmental activity in both developed and developing countries.
She said in Ghana the sector contributes 6.2 percent to the gross domestic product and in terms of employment the World Travel and Tourism Council reported that the sector supported 5.3 percent of total national employment in 2017.
She said the theme for the congress validates the important facts and issues surrounding women in tourism and reflects the symbiotic relationship between women entrepreneurs and women in tourism.
The sector minister said there is the need to raise the awareness about the impact made by women and find ways in which their roles could further be deepened to maximize the gains already existing.
Mrs Oteng Gyasi said tourism provides better opportunities for women’s participation in the work force, women entrepreneurship and women leadership than any other sector in the economy and provides various entry points for women’s employment and opportunities for creating self employment in small and medium scale income generating activities.
Mrs Auxillia Mnangagwa, First Lady of Zimbabwe, said in many developing countries women are excluded in mainstream tourism in spite of the fact that they are natural hospitality players by virtue of their nature.
She said the tourism sector provides various entry points for women empowerment and opportunities for creating self employment.
“The contribution of women in the business world has increased in recent times although women are under-represented. The percentage of women who work in the industry is high but perform the menial roles in the industry.”
Mrs Mnangagwa called on development partners in tourism to facilitate the creation of a fund for a tourism startup project at the continental level to aid inclusive growth and contribute to attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General UNWTO, said the congress was an opportunity to discuss the importance of gender mainstreaming in tourism, by sharing knowledge and relevant experience.