SA’s Tourism Minister, Tokozile Xasa. (Photo: Twitter)
Cape Town – In South Africa’s Heritage and Tourism Month, Mzansi has even more reason to celebrate being #ProudlySA after the country’s Tourism Minister, Tokozile Xasa, was elected one of two deputy chairpersons of the Regional Commission for Africa (CAF).
This announcement was made during the 22nd General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), that took place in China over 11-16 September.
The regional tourism commissions enable member states to meet once a year to discuss concerns and formulate proposals to submit to the UNWTO for consideration.
Xasa, who is also the convenor of tourism ministers in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), was appointed deputy chair of the CAF for a two-year term alongside Amat Bah from Gambia. Kenya’s Najib Balala was elected to chair the regional commission, succeeding Zimbabwe’s Walter Mzembi.
“It’s a vote of confidence in the vision and leadership shown by South Africa as a major tourism player on the African continent and, indeed, on the world stage,” says South African Tourism’s (SAT) Chief Executive Officer, Sisa Ntshona while congratulating Xasa’s appointment.
Ntshona adds that being voted into this position “is an endorsement of Minister Xasa’s zeal in pushing the agenda of the African Union in multilateral engagements, and her passion for championing women and small businesses in the tourism sector”.
“African tourism faces its own distinct opportunities and challenges, and we have every confidence in her [Xasa’s] ability to articulate these on the global stage,” adds Ntshona.
Her appointment as one of the two deputy chairpersons of the Regional Commission for Africa is also a significant step for women in tourism.
Xasa, SA’s first female Minister of Tourism, told Traveller24 in a previous interview in 2017 that she aims to increase the representation of women in tourism in a five year period, as well as look at ways to develop the skills and products of women in tourism.
She is also working towards making tourism inclusive and sustainable, and spearheaded the National Department of Tourism’s Women in Tourism programme to upskill, empower and advance women in the tourism sector.
“With a workforce comprised largely by women operating at the lower levels of the value chain, it is incumbent on our sector to lead the process of gender diversity and transformation that will result in more women occupying executive positions,” says Xasa.
Women in tourism globally
According to SA Tourism, 13 African countries are led by women in the tourism portfolio and on the sidelines of the UNWTO General Assembly, an informal session held by these female tourism ministers took several progressive resolutions to further the Women in Tourism agenda.
“Key among these decisions was Ethiopia undertaking to host a Women in Tourism conference in Addis Ababa in January 2018, to build, expand and refine the scope of this initiative from a regional point of view,” says SA Tourism.
The ministers share best practice and learn from each another in promoting women in the sector, tackle continent-wide challenges such as women trafficking, and focus on connecting SMMEs with bigger industry players.
“We are pleased that the vital Women in Tourism campaign has been injected with fresh impetus thanks to Minister Xasa’s election to the CAF leadership,” adds Ntshona.
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