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Women in Tourism ends women’s month on a high note hobnobbing at high tea symposium

GABORONE, Botswana, March 30, 2021/ — Local Tourism and Hospitality enthusiasts gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone this past weekend(Saturday) for the inaugural annual Women in Tourism High Tea Symposium to close up the International Women’s Month in style. Organised by Women In Tourism Botswana in partnership with Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone, the event attracted guests from across the tourism sector, including the Minister for Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism,Philda Kereng, the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) chairperson, Boitumelo Sekwababe, HATAB CEO, Lily Rakorong and BTO’s Executive Manager-Marketing, Keitumetse Setlang.

As Botswana’s economy continues to open up amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister Kerengsays empowering women in the tourism sector to upskill themselves and assume leadership positions will contribute to livelihoods improvement in the community. 

Furthermore, the minister said by doing so, this provides opportunities for women who are always at the frontline during difficult times, taking care of their families and vulnerable groups in ourcommunities.

“We are here to demonstrate with boldness that women are indeed capable of leading the tourism sector. As a nation, we have a responsibility to empower more women and encourage them to upskill themselves in readiness for leadership positions,” said Kereng.

For her part, HATAB boss, Rakorong said amongst other key areas that could help remove barriers for women in the industry, there should be gender sensitive legal and microeconomic policies at national level that will increase women’s economic empowerment in the tourism sector when implemented effectively.

Meanwhile, Setlang from BTO said whilst women make up the highest percentage of the workforce in tourism, we tend to be highly concentrated at the bottom of the ladder, their role at the bottom of this pyramid is very important. “It is important to remember as women that all these levels of responsibility, as women, we should carry ourselves in a manner that define who we are and where we inspire to be. So as you start at the bottom of the pyramid with aspirations to go up, define your why while still at the bottom of the pyramid,” she said.

According to data provided by the Department of Tourism, Research and Statistics Division, as of December 2020, the tourism industry had a total employment of 20 283, out of which 60% were women (12 170). Out of the total number of women employed, 11 562 are citizens while 608 are non – citizens. In terms of Tourism Enterprise ownership, out of the total of 2594 licensed tourism operations, 1294 are owned by women which represent a 49.9% ownership. 

According to data provided by the Department of Tourism, Research and Statistics Division, as of December 2020, the tourism industry had a total employment of 20 283, out of which 60% were women (12 170). Out of the total number of women employed, 11 562 are citizens while 608 are non – citizens. In terms of Tourism Enterprise ownership, out of the total of 2594 licensed tourism operations, 1294 are owned by women which represent a 49.9% ownership. 

When quizzed about business operations during the covid-19 pandemic, the Grand Palm hotel Operations Manager, Keletso Bogatsu said one of her biggest challenges during the pandemic was managing a hotel remotely. 

She had to learn how to manage a group of individuals remotely. Bogatsu added that because of the pandemic, it was difficult to achieve the same revenue as of before the pandemic which caused some tensions between the management and staff of her hotel. To mitigate this wrath, she said they had to find a common ground that satisfied both the parties.

When accepting all feedback from various speakers, the Women in Tourism Botswana (WIT) President and founder, Bokani Mathape said there is a need to get as many women as possible into decision making tables. She said it is the only way the tourism sector can begin to unpack issues that revolve around stigma, violence, peace and equality. 

“Today was a clear indication of how women are willing to actually support each other and also a clear highlight on why women inclusion is important. Women are natural nurturers, it’s in their DNA so including women to lead my organisations and taking as much space as they can will truly have a trickle down effect that hospitality and love will show down the ladder,” concluded Mathape.

The WIT hosted the high tea symposium alongside Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone, sponsored by BTO and supported by Echo Newspaper, The Voice Newspaper, King On Media and Sunset Bird Travel respectively. 

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BOTSWANAUNPLUGGED is an exclusive online news and lifestyle magazine created for upwardly mobile citizens with distinguished tastes. Based in Gaborone, Botswana; UNPLUGGED is a quintessential online news and lifestyle medium (platform) which strives to speak to the soul of the country’s upscale lifestyle by setting its sights on the passion that permeates our region.

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