Nesia Mhaka Herald Correspondent
Government has lamented the low participation of women in the tourism industry and pledged to introduce measures towards the growth of women in the sector.
In an interview with The Herald, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) acting chief executive Mr Givemore Chidzidzi aid tourism sector could only succeed once women are afforded the opportunity to actively participate in creating sustainable solutions.
“The 2013 National Tourism Policy reinforces tourism as an important pillar for sustainable human development including poverty alleviation, employment generation, environment regeneration and advancement of women and other disadvantaged groups in Zimbabwe.
“As such, Government is paying more attention to the ways in which the benefits of tourism are distributed between men and women. The tourism sector definitely provides various entry points for women’s employment and opportunities for creating self-employment in small and medium-sized income-generating activities, thus creating paths towards the elimination of poverty in women and local communities,” he said.
He said ZTA has instigated efforts to ensure that women’s participation in tourism activities across the board, from community projects to large enterprises.
“It is pleasing to note that generally the contribution of women in the business world has increased in recent years, although women are under-represented in management and leadership positions. In Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, the percentage of women who work in the industry is high, but their function is dominated by unskilled, low-paid jobs.
“To this end, women are being made aware of various income-generating projects associated with tourism development. Ultimately actualisation of these projects will lead to the development of great women entrepreneurs and economically empowered families,” Mr Chidzidzi has said.
He said women were facing challenges to access credit facilities which became a hindrance for them to participate in the socio-economic activities.
“We are aware that women’s access to capital has been a major challenge towards women empowerment and participation in economic activities across all sectors, tourism included. This has been coupled by women’s limited or no access to collateral.
“Indeed, the need for women to network, exchange ideas and provide each other with mutual support and strategies as they try to meet challenges associated with altering traditional roles in their communities to becoming leaders or business women cannot be overemphasised,” he said.
Tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries. It is an engine for development, contributing to economic growth, poverty reduction and community development. In Zimbabwe, tourism is one of the key economic drivers contributing 7,2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector is expected to contribute 15 percent to GDP and generate close to $2,5 billion in foreign currency receipts by 2025.