South African Women in Tourism on Women in Tourism programmes / activities


18 August 2020
Chairperson: Mr S Mahumapelo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Tourism, 18 August 2020

The Committee was briefed on the Women in Tourism (WiT) programme and the progress made in each of the provincial chapters. The meeting took place on a virtual platform. The presentations addressed the various events in the provinces for the WiT programme. The Committee was also taken through the UNWTO Women Empowerment in Tourism (WEiT) sector programme and its objectives, the WiT programme in SA, institutional arrangements in terms of the target group for WiT and programmes for the specific programmes of the WiT and the WiT initiatives for 2020/21.

Members questioned the Department of Tourism plays in assisting women in tourism, achievements of the programme, how provincial chapter chairpersons were elected, relief funding provided to women-owned tourism businesses, recruitment of women into the chapters, especially in rural areas and townships and joining fees. It was requested that the Department provide monthly progress reports and that the Department provide financial support to the stakeholders.

Members emphasised the role of the private sector. Further questioned probed the quantitative information used by the Department to inform opportunities and potential and identifying gaps – it is important to know how many women in SA ought to own tourism businesses.

There was agreement women need to take centre stage in economic activities in SA. The chapters were urged to use social media and other online platforms especially during this time.

Regarding the way forward, the Committee would look into the lack of procurement of quarantine sites owned by women by government, look at progress throughout the year, interact with the private sector and obtaining comprehensive feedback from the ground to push tourism to exist in all townships, villages, informal settlements and small towns in SA.


Meeting report

Opening Remarks by the Chairperson

The Chairperson welcomed the Members of the Committee and the provincial chapters of the women in tourism programme, paying special attention to all women of the country. He acknowledged the role and challenges faced by women in society and encouraged unity and protection of all women. He said women are being harassed, raped and isolated in our economy and thus we should not support such acts. The chairperson of the women in tourism program accompanied by the chairpersons of the nine provincial chapters presented progress that has been achieved in its women in tourism program.

Briefing on Women in Tourism (WiT) Programme

Ms Mmaditonki Setwaba Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG): Tourism Sector Support Services, Department of Tourism, accompanied by the nine provincial chapter chairpersons, appeared before the Committee. She appreciated the words of the Chairperson noting the tourism sector played a huge role in ensuring people are employed, fed and nurtured. The ultimate goal was to ensure the needs of the community were taken care of by providing jobs and ensuring economic development occurs. This is the role played by women. Sadly COVID19 has impacted everyone. The recovery plan hoped to see women take centre stage and playing a critical role in ensuring the recovery in tourism and taking it to greater heights for the benefit of the country.

Ms Maylene Broderick, Chief Director: Enterprise Development, Transformation, Domestic Tourism and Responsible Tourism, Department of Tourism, took Members through the presentation. The presentation spoke to the UNWTO Women Empowerment in Tourism (WEiT) sector programme and its objectives and the WiT programme in SA. The presentation also addressed institutional arrangements in terms of the target group for WiT and programmes for the specific programmes of the WiT. Members were informed of the WiT initiatives for 2020/21

See presentation for details

Women in Tourism: Chapters

The various chairpersons of the provincial chapters each presented to the Committee. The presentation looked at various events in the provinces for the WiT programme

See presentation for details


Ms M Gomba (ANC) asked about the role the Department of Tourism plays in assisting women in tourism to tap into empowerment and funding facilities available across government spheres such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). What are the achievements of the programme since its inception in 2013? Women in tourism could have been far in terms development if the Department was taking women empowerment seriously. What were the criteria used in electing the chairperson for each provincial chapter? How were these chairpersons appointed to the positions they held? She recommended that the Western Cape chapter should also involve women from townships such as Khayelitsha, Delft and Gugulethu in its WiT programme.

Ms Broderick replied that the Department of Tourism partners with various institutions In order to provide support to women in tourism. These institutions include SEDA, the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

Ms Setwaba explained the Department was proclaimed in 2010 – prior to this, it was part of the Department of Environmental Affairs. The Department has been involved in background work related to the institutional arrangement for the programme and the establishment of the chapters. The Department has demonstrated its cooperation with the provincial government in terms of promoting women in tourism and ensuring sustainability in terms of the provincial chapters. Matters are being addressed in Gauteng to ensure it gets back on track. The linkage with the Department through the Chief Director responsible for enterprises development and domestic tourism fits in very well. The Department was doing well facilitating sponsorships for the benefit of women. With the input of the Committee, the work will continue.  

Ms Makhosi Msimango (KZN) said that in terms of the appointment of members, a voting system is used. Candidates present themselves and certain criteria have to be met such as employment history, time in the industry, impact made and product ownership. Participating in the chapter was done on a volunteer basis.  

Mr H Gumbi (DA) noted that people would be interested in how many women-owned businesses would have been lost due to the pandemic and how many were assisted through relief funding. He asked what should be done with the current regulations to make it easier for women to have equal opportunities in the tourism sector. The other point to consider is what would be done when the Disaster Management Act no longer applied.

Ms Msimango answered that many of the women are not on the same level so the assistance required would vary. At times, financial statements are needed or business plans to apply for incentives. Some of the members do not make enough money as small businesses and cannot afford assistance in this regard. People lose out because of this.

Mr P Moteka (EFF) noted that when looking at the stats, it was apparent more women were working in the tourism sector but few of them were in the top structures. This is not a new pattern. He noted that the WiT was launched in 2010 by the United Nations but it really only kicked off in 2019 – this made him wonder where the Department was for these nine years. It shows the Department did not take women seriously. The stats show the ownership of black women in the sector was only 10%. He challenged the Department to, at the next meeting, respond to which conference challenges and recommendations have been addressed. Without this, the programme would be a waste and would be the same as the last wasted nine years.

How are the nine chapters recruiting women to its programme, especially in rural and remote areas? How much is the joining fee for the programme? If the Department was serious about women empowerment, it should not put a burden on women by charging a joining fee because the vast majority of women in rural dwellings are not working. The fee will discourage low income earners and will only carter for those women that can afford thus making the programme less effective. Are there other requirements to join the programme? He wanted to see the inclusion of women in the rural areas. Without this, SA would continue to cry for women empowerment without doing anything about it. What was being done to bring in new faces into the tourism industry? Are talkshops organised in schools? Students that do travel and tourism are laughed at because others think there is no work out there for them but this is because of a lack of information.

Ms Msimango said recruitment is done in the townships. The requirement used is to be a woman in the sector. There were plans to showcase the information in schools and universities.

Ms Grace Sibara (Limpopo) explained that in Limpopo, most of the women in tourism are located in those rural villages and townships. All the districts were represented. Road shows were taken through all the districts through district organisers and coordinators who were familiar with what was happening on the ground in the districts. The support provided by the municipality was important. Tourism is in the townships and there are women in the sector such as in transport. There are other members involved in sectors such as agriculture and mining so this cannot be left out. The effect of COVID19 has been great and many of the women-owned business were not doing well. The relief funds have assisted some in Limpopo – 90% of the WiT in Limpopo has received the funding. She called on the Department to assist the remaining 10% somehow. Assistance was also needed in terms of procurement of services and goods – government was not supportive in this regard. One of the quarantine facilities were procured from small business. If there was no assistance, many tourism businesses would not survive the year.

Mr T Khalipha (ANC) was excited by reference to villages and townships in the presentations. It would be important for the Department to assist and provide support to all tourism stakeholders. He heard the presenter refer to challenges in a specific Free State region – this was the area in which the Member’s constituency office was located and he said everyone should assist to intervene in this area.  He requested that the Department provide monthly progress reports and that the Department provide financial support to the stakeholders. The Department should also lobby the private sector. He requested the Department support stakeholders in small towns and villages – this was not only financial support but also training to build capacity. He had no doubt that if these women received this support, next year, the women would provide a positive report.  

Ms Msimango agreed that training and financial support is required.

Mr G Krumbock (DA) noted that the Gauteng chapter did not present today because of internal issues. He was not clear on how the Department funded these chapters and if there is departmental support. If this was the case, greater transparency would be needed on how the taxpayers’ money was being used in this regard. If this is the case, more transparency is also needed on the issues in Gauteng.  He was interested to see the objective related to employment of women and entrepreneurship – this is exactly what should occur as although government does not create jobs, it creates the environment in which businesses flourish. A lot of good work was done in the chapters but there was less information on entrepreneurship and training to enable equal competition in the tourism sector. A section of the presentation spoke to the pay gap between men and women but there are encouraging signs on what could be achieved in tourism mainly because of the low barriers of entry.  After being an MP for 21 years, Mr Krumbock said he had been in many BnBs in his travels and it was true that many of them, and tour guides, were owned by women – this is an exciting prospect for the future. He was disappointed to hear that in many cases, these were women that had been widowed and the children have moved out so were left with a large house with many rooms to rent out. While it is wonderful that such a woman could become an entrepreneur, it should not at such stage of life. One wanted to see the ideal situation of a woman leaving school and going straight into tourism.

Does the Department actually know the potential, or quantified, how many women ought to be in tourism in SA? If 50% of ownership in the country should be by women, what does female ownership in the tourism sector look like? Compared to this, how many women are actually in ownership? This would reveal the disparity and the potential to work towards. What it is being done to facilitate entrepreneurial training? Does this training provide a reasonable opportunity to achieve the potential? It is important to look at the numbers i.e. what exists and what is needed in terms of entrepreneurial training to boost empowerment, employment and ownership. Each of the nine provincial chapters should be doing their share to bridge this gap.

Howick Falls has been mentioned twice today again. He thought this had to do with the “good green clean awareness campaign” as launched by the Department of Tourism and Department of Environmental Affairs. The campaign was largely symbolic to do with the pollution of the river which ends up in the blue lagoon in Durban and the waste landfills in Howick so there was a symbolic clean up. Clean ups have been happening for 20 years in Howick mainly by Friends of the Falls, the DA and Love Howick so this was not new. Any help to keep the cleanup programme going would be welcomed mainly because local government has collapsed in that part of the world and there was no cleanup programme. Things have worsened since the Committee visit last year. On Sunday, the facility burnt down and this illustrates how ineffective the intervention was as the main asset there, the tourist kiosk, was burnt to the ground. There was no report by the municipality or response by the leadership. The Department will have to report on behalf of the municipality as the municipality is too useless to send the reports which they were mandated to do by the Committee.  He welcomed the help provided through the chapters but he pleaded for resources and influence to try to get the municipality to respond to the Committee’s request for reports and to try to get the project moving. This is embarrassing to intergovernmental relations and the Committee’s own efforts.

Ms Broderick said the work around unpacking the value chain is being done. The Department does not provide financial support at all to the women and the only support was training, venues etc. She appreciated the feedback on Howick and there would be engagement with the KZN chapter to see how support can be increased in this regard. 

Regarding the quantified numbers, the Department was working with its research team but it did not have the full picture as yet. As of last year, StatsSA began collecting stats on women in the sector. A full quantification would be done to assess the potential. This would be used to inform the policy response to drive transformation and improve the numbers. This is a work in process.

Ms Setwaba responded that the Department does not provide any financial support to women but they do provide training for skills development. There was the incubation project ran by women.

The KZN chapter was sponsored by FNB for master class training on professional development, market access and product development.  Business owners were trained to market their businesses on an international level and to assess if products met the international standard in terms of health and safety regulations. The provincial grading council was approached to get home-stays their own grading status.

Ms S Xego (ANC) appreciated the presentation made by the provincial chapters and applauded the Portfolio Committee for prioritising the programme intended to assist women in tourism during Women’s Month. The Committee is interested in all the provinces but the shortfalls in Gauteng should be addressed by all. Women need to take centre stage in economic activities in SA. Hindrances are identified which prevent the activity of women in business such as lack of information, lack of resources, stereotypes and the burden of women in home and society. It was disheartening to see that more women are employed but fewer women owned businesses.

She asked the national coordinating body in which other platforms it participated. For example, women in transport, women in agriculture, women in mining. This would allow for further opportunities to be tapped into. She would encourage the provincial chapters to establish district chapters. She encouraged the chapters to use accessible social media platforms to reach more women. This can be used to access information. The programme should be simple and affordable to join – this should also be transparent such as in the North West where it was said the joining fee was R500 a year. She applauded the chapter which waived the joining fee for the month of August. The “new normal” has shown that people can be reached online. 

The provincial chapters should also include gender-based violence topics in their programmes and extend an invitation to gender base violence related organisations for more insight on GBV issues. She recommended that the programme must involve the Department of Communication and Digital Technology to equip women with digital skills for fourth industrial revolution.

Ms Broderick said the Department is working with other women’s associations such as in mining, property and agriculture. Events would be organised to further tap into this. There were plans to work on bigger areas such as women taking over consortiums, purchasing hotels etc.

Ms Carol Nake (Mpumalanga) asked the Committee to assist as women should be 50% owners in all the provincial parks such as the Kruger National Park, Blade River Canyon and in nature reserves. Government should facilitate ownership by women in big businesses in all the provinces.

The Chairperson, in his closing remarks, said that the chapters were not an extension of the Department and were not accountable to the Committee nut they could share information and make recommendations. Women in SA, and throughout the world, have a greater burden to provide leadership and care in society. The Committee must be mindful of the importance of the time of the chapters as they were business people. He thanked them for their participation.

In terms of the way forward, it was noted the chapters raised that the ownership of quarantine sites should be made public and so that it was known where government was procuring. Government must account for why it did not procure from women-owned sites. It is important to look at the progress made throughout the year. The Committee must assist in interacting with the private sector to assist WiT enterprises financially and otherwise, such as training and development. It is important to look at villages, townships, informal settlements and small towns – this is where unemployment is more pronounced. The Committee will focus, in next four years, on comprehensive feedback from the ground to push tourism to exist in all townships, villages, informal settlements and small towns in SA. The bulk of tourism has been in big cities but this must be transformed. Next month, the Committee would focus on issues of transformation. The move to level two of the lockdown presented an opportunity to accelerate domestic tourism.   

The Committee adopted the minutes of its previous meeting.

Mr Gumbi highlighted that under decisions taken by the Committee at its previous meeting, the Committee agreed that steps would be taken if the Howick report was not received and the municipality would be invited.

The Chairperson agreed. It will be dealt with at the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.






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