Women opening tourism doors wider

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

The doors to the tourism industry have opened slightly for black women, but not much has been done to improve the status of women in the industry.

This is one of many challenges still facing women.

This emerged during the Women in Tourism Summit held at the Royal Hotel in Durban yesterday.

Hundreds of women representatives from the local and district municipalities, tourism associations, community- based organisations and women who are owners of hotels and bed-and-breakfast establishments in the province came together to share ideas and experiences.

Addressing the women, provincial MEC for arts, culture and tourism, Weziwe Thusi, said, though there was a minority of women involved in tourism, the industry was still dominated by whites.

She said a bit of a turn-around had been experienced in the past few years where the country had seen doors opening, "but slightly", for black women.

She said the only significant change in ownership in the industry to date was that a black woman was now the owner of the old City Royal Hotel in Pietermaritzburg, and that several other black women in the province, who own large homes, were converting portions of their houses into bed-and-breakfasts.

Thusi urged women who have already succeeded in getting into the industry to work with other new women entrants in the industry.

During this one-day summit themed "Tourism Opens Doors for Women", the need for women in tourism and those who want to be part of the industry to meet more often in such a fashion was highlighted.

The women attending the conference said the biggest challenge facing them was that they still did not have full access to finance to boost their businesses.