The Deputy Minister of Tourism Elizabeth Thabethe has applauded an initiative by the North West Department of Tourism and the North West University (NWU) for implementing a digitally savvy business model for North West Women in Tourism Chapter which will now be rolled out in other Provinces. The decision to replicate the model in other chapters forms part of the resolutions of the 5th Annual Women in Tourism Conference which recently took place in Rustenburg.

While addressing the delegates at the conference, Deputy Minister Thabethe expressed her satisfaction of notable efforts made by stakeholders in the province which enabled the Women in Tourism forum to embrace technology in order to grow the sector.

“North West is a very good example of how an IT programme can work remarkably for your business. They have invented a website which is also accessible through an app, for the women’s chapter.

“The Department and the University did an incredible job in taking them through training on how they can simplify technology and use it to their benefit and I would encourage the other chapters to follow suit. You can start here at conference, reach out to the relevant people and get the ball rolling”, said Deputy Minister Thabethe.

The North West Department of Tourism welcomed this recognition, Chief Director for Tourism Growth, Development & Transformation, Sarah Manone indicated that they were satisfied with the positive outcomes of the project.

“As a Department we pride ourselves by being trendsetters and being acknowledged by the National Department, also inspiring other provinces is a great achievement. When we approached the universtiy, we were excited and anticipated that this project would exceed expectations. It was important for us to invest in something that speaks to the empowerment of women, who in this industry were previously disadvantaged, so that they too can get a piece of the pie”, said Manone.

e-Agro Tourism Administrator at NWU Dr Aaron Tshidzumba said the enrolled trainees have been exposed to various IT courses that will enable them to enhance their businesses.

“We have provided training on a number of programmes on social media, awareness and online presence as well as creating database for their trade. Trainees are now able to use different platforms such as YouTube, Facebook etc depending on their kind of business and for those that are in conferencing they can tap into giving a better experience to their clients. This can be attributed to the good working relationship that we have with the department”, said Dr Tshidzumba.

Registered in 2017, the North West Women in Tourism Chapter was one of the first to launch and approve its constitution and has since been active in spearheading the development of tourism operations owned by women around the province.

The Deputy Chairperson of the Women in Tourism North West Chapter, Khosi Tyobeka indicated that all districts were represented in the programme and the overall intention is to have an ongoing partnership that will see women in the receiving end.

“This is an ongoing partnership where each year there will be a number of recruits to the programme. Since we started in 2018 with the initiative 20 women from each district that have taken part in the programme, we are proud to say that we have a website that is impressive, The Deputy Minister liked the design and layout and we are happy that we could come up with something that is now a blueprint for other provinces”, Tyobeka said.

According to Tyobeka the chapter also seeks to recruit more members to the forum through a number of membership drive campaigns so that women within the sector can be fully represented.

“As North West we raised our hand and advocated to have the conference take place in the province and indeed it materialized, that shows that we are ready, we represent women’s constituency and we bring forward challenges that women are faced with in business. There are limited opportunities and as Women in Tourism we are prepared to knock on all doors and sell our products because we have capacity but opportunities presented are not enough.

“We want our women to top up Lilizela Awards, we want to increase procurement from women by government and private companies we also want to be represented in boards, our time is now and we a seizing the opportunity”, Tyobeka added

The National Women in Tourism Conference was established in 2013 and provides a platform for women across the country in the tourism sector to encourage discussion around accelerating economic empowerment and progression, to expand the role of women in the tourism sector as well as exploring business opportunities to advance women entrepreneurs and job creation.