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Turning challenges into opportunities

WOMEN empowerment and inclusivity remains topical across the globe. This has become more relevant in the matters pertaining to sustainable development.

As the globe celebrates the International Women’s Day, it is time to introspect on the impetus journey and progressions of women in the tourism sector.

This year’s commemorations run under the Theme: #Choosetochallenge.

The day comes at a time when the entire globe is grappling the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The theme speaks to the latest global challenges presented by the pandemic and the tourism sector has been also curtailed in terms of progressions. Despite all challenges, the sector is determined to forge ahead with implementation of sustainable tourism, which paves way for women empowerment and inclusivity.

Sustainable Tourism is ideal in addressing myriad challenges that may have potential effects on tourism progression. This will see women inclusion having the ability to participate in various initiatives such as turning tourism challenges into opportunities. The global trends are now pointing towards greening tourism, eco-tourism, tourism investments in climate smart cities, transport, resilient infrastructure and green building.

Women in Tourism stands a chance to explore the available opportunities and stands as a reflection of fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) Number 5, which emphasises on gender equality and empowerment of women.

Amid all this, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector has been unlocking opportunities anchoring on women’s involvement in the tourism business.

The government has offered legislative frameworks that have seen active involvement of women leading parastatals within the tourism sector.  Currently, the sector takes pride in having Zimbabwe Tourism Authority board chairperson Dr Precious Sibiya, Zimbabwe Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president Winnie Muchanyuka, Women in Tourism chairperson Idah Kamushinda and executive director for Cresta Group of Hotels Chipo Mandela.

An exclusive interview with Sibiya unravelled the positive strides initiated by the government towards women involvement in the tourism sector.

“As a country we have achieved a lot in terms of empowering Women in Tourism. Our government intervened in a number of ways through the initiation of various Programmes. We now have Women Chapters in Tourism across all provinces of Zimbabwe.”

She further reiterated that the current environment is permitting women involvement in the tourism sector. Apart from local initiatives, through government, Zimbabwean women have been also participating at international tourism forums.

“All women converge at Tourism Symposium which boosts their participation every year. The government has been exposing women in tourism to participate at international tourism events. Just before Covid-19 outbreak our majority attended the Tourism Fair in Germany,” she said.

According to global statistics women constitute 60% of the employees in the tourism sector. This would call for a paradigm shift to allow their participation in influential positions.  Kamushinga notes the positive steps engaged by the government of Zimbabwe towards emancipation of women in the tourism sector.

“In view of this obtaining situation, Zimbabwe as a country, has taken several strides to champion the role of women in the country’s tourism development,” she said.

“The Government in its bid to promote gender equality and encourage women’s participation in the national economy, the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry decided to assist women who are into tourism and its value chain through the establishment of The Zimbabwe Women in Tourism.”

Hazel Zisanhi is the epitome for upcoming women in corporate communications. She gained traction in the tourism sector as a flight attendant rising through the ranks to become the public relations manager and spokesperson for Air Zimbabwe and currently she is the corporate communications and industry relations manager at Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.

Zisanhi is the current second runner up for the lnstitute of Public Relations and Communications Zimbabwe Public Relations Communicator of the Year 2020 and she is the current vice president of the Zimbabwe Institute of Public Relations (ZIPR).

Guvamombe writes in his personal capacity and has special interests in Tourism and Climate Change stories. tendaiguvamombe3gmail.com 

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