'Face of poverty' is still a woman, says tourism minister

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The Department of Tourism is busy reviewing policies, says Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane (Supplied)
The Department of Tourism is busy reviewing policies, says Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane (Supplied)
  • As part of celebrating International Women's Day, the Department of Tourism hosted a webinar for women in the industry.
  • As keynote speaker, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said SA's tourism sector still does not reflect that most participants are women.
  • She would like to see women in the industry making their collective voice heard via the Women in Tourism programme.


The coronavirus pandemic is increasing pre-existing inequalities, including those relating to women in tourism, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said on Monday.

As part of celebrating International Women's Day, she was the keynote speaker during a webinar hosted by the Department of Tourism.

"The face of poverty remains that of a woman, and more specifically a black woman," said Kubayi-Ngubane.

She pointed out that in SA's tourism sector the majority of participants are women, but that is not reflected in terms of ownership and leadership in the industry.

"We must be able to say that not having [more] women in ownership and leadership roles in the tourism country's tourism industry is unacceptable in this day and age," said Kubayi-Ngubane. "It is not because women do not have the capacity to lead in the industry, but it is about the issue of [a lack of] opportunities presented for them," she continued.

"One of the things we must drive consciously, is that, when we talk of inclusivity, we must ensure women are at the centre of it."

She said that is exactly what the Women in Tourism (WiT) platform aims to do. The Women in Tourism programme is an initiative that advances and supports the development and empowerment of women in the tourism sector. The programme integrates women from diverse backgrounds on a set of common goals and interests that will ensure a greater chance of their success in the sector. 

Elevate status of women 

Since its inception in 2013, the programme served as a mechanism to elevate the status of women in the tourism sector by providing training, empowerment and networking opportunities. 

"Covid-19 has been devastating for the tourism sector and compounded by the economic impact, especially as felt by women. It is not easy to respond to the challenges created by the pandemic on SMMEs [small, medium and macro-enterprises] in the tourism industry. The big question is how we can look at ensuring there is cash flow and working capital for SMMEs to survive," said Kubayi-Ngubane.

"It is about how we work together as women in tourism in the various provinces and working with the chairs of boards to ensure marketing can be done and how to use opportunities on social media platforms to do marketing and gain more clients. Women in Tourism is an information-sharing platform. Yesterday's traveller is not the same as today's or the traveller of the future."

Kubayi-Ngubane said the Department of Tourism is busy reviewing policies and she encouraged the various Women in Tourism chapters in the country to ensure the legislation and policy takes women into account.

"The norms and standards of our policies must respond to who we are as women in business and practitioners of tourism. I want to see Women in Tourism chapters to get involved and drive this process," said the minister. "My door is open. Send an invite for us to have a conversation. Let us look at how best we can grow our sector."

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