To the Remarkable Women in the South African tourism sector
On this special day, as we celebrate the strength, resilience, and unwavering spirit of women, my heart swells with pride and gratitude for each one of the women who make up the vibrant tapestry of our tourism sector.
Our journey is one that is intertwined with the rich tapestry of our nation’s history, where the struggles of our foremothers have paved the way for the empowered women we are today.
Reflecting on our journey, we acknowledge the struggles that have marked the path of women in the history of our beautiful country, sector, and industry. From the battles against inequality and discrimination to the pursuit of education, economic independence, and women leadership – we have emerged as architects of change, breaking down barriers and shattering ceilings. The women who came before us paved the way, often with tears and sacrifices, for the opportunities we embrace today.
In my awe of the past, I must also acknowledge that there are still many wrongs to be corrected when it comes to gender equality in our sector. We know that issues of equal pay and work-life balance remain key challenges for us as women.
It is evidently highlighted in a recent “Women in Tourism” survey conducted by South African Tourism that women perceive their remuneration as not aligning with international benchmarks, they find their upward mobility restricted, and they lament a perceived shortfall in governmental backing for tourism-focused small enterprises.
On a positive note, though, the survey also highlights that women are significant contributors to the tourism sector, making up 51% of the workforce, 45% of ownership, and the majority having served the industry for decades. In fact, 39% of women in tourism have over 20 years of experience, and 37% report higher earnings than in other industries.
As we celebrate the achievements of women throughout history and our sector, let us also remember that we are creating our own history within the tourism sector, together with women-owned businesses, and stakeholders. We are the powerful women of today, bound by a shared purpose and a united vision for the future of the South African tourism sector that encompasses both domestic and international travel.
In every corner of our sector , women are shaping the landscape of tourism, bringing innovation, creativity, and compassion to our work. Their dedication, resilience, and unwavering commitment to excellence is clear. Their unique perspectives and voices enrich our endeavours and lead us towards a brighter tomorrow and a destination where women are in charge.
In the heart of our new South Africa, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment for redefining the tourism sector. The global positioning system of this era is not only those who fought for freedom but also those who harness their influence, expertise, and compassion to uplift communities, industries, and the nation as a whole. The modern South African woman traveller is also a force to be reckoned with—a beacon of hope, a catalyst for transformation, and a symbol of limitless potential.
As we commemorate this Women’s Day, let us not only look back with pride but also look forward with hope. Let’s continue to uplift, inspire, and empower one another.
Let’s support the dreams of our fellow sisters and stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity. Let’s travel this journey together, we can redefine the boundaries of possibility and create a world where every woman’s potential knows no limits.
I salute each and every one of you, the trailblazers, the caregivers, the leaders, and the dreamers. Your contributions are shaping the course of our future. Let us continue to stand together, unwavering, and united, as we build a South Africa where travelling is a culture and where every woman’s dreams can take flight.
Thank you for being the heart and soul of our industry. Your contributions are immeasurable, your impact undeniable, and your spirits unstoppable.
With admiration and solidarity,
Acting CEO, SA Tourism