How young women are making the recovery in the tourism sector

By: Lindi Mthethwa, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing, Minor Hotels Africa Group

“Women don’t have to prove themselves anymore. We have always worked hard to deliver results. I am proud of what we have achieved in this industry and what we continue to achieve.”

If there is one thing that COVID19 has taught the tourism and hospitality sector, it is that women are the backbone of our industry and the cornerstone of growth, demonstrating great strength and resilience in times of crisis. Indeed, I think women have played a key role in helping the brands they work for survive the global pandemic.

I am constantly impressed and inspired by the women around me. They are natural-born leaders in a landscape that has always been filled with extraordinary women doing extraordinary things, leading many of the strategies that have enabled hotel brands to overcome the critical challenges the pandemic has presented us with.

We understand that during turbulent times women know how to weather and shine in crises, driving innovation and moving forward.

I didn’t study hospitality or tourism, but I started in a position with one of the major hotel groups in 2003. That’s where I fell in love with the industry and all these years later that love affair continues. Over the years and now in my current position, I have seen first hand how the glass ceiling that has frustrated women in the tourism industry for decades has now been lifted.

More and more women are moving into tourism and hospitality as owners and stakeholders, as well as leading tourism authorities and industry associations. Here in South Africa there are more women at executive level than ever before. There are huge opportunities for women in this industry now, and those brands that understand the value of women in leadership positions are now relying on them even more as we recover from the pandemic and rebuild our industry.

What Does the Future Hold?

Fortunately, the tourism industry is bouncing back, and fast. It was critical during the deadlock to re-strategize and aim quickly. Especially for well-known international brands that relied heavily on international tourists. Likewise, conferences and MICE trade when companies not only stopped business travel, but also incentive and motivational visits to other countries.

Engaging with online marketing and digital marketing campaigns was a lifeline. As well as launching more creative social media to increase engagement in order to work with traditional and online agents.

I strongly believe that the passing of the pandemic has helped tourism for the future, not only locally, regionally, but also worldwide. We had to change the way we did things and focus on new markets and it was good to create and implement strategies that helped us survive where many others did not.

I am passionate about transforming and empowering women across the tourism industry.

One of the important things to me is lifting each other up as women.

There are some very strong women who are trailblazers and pioneers in the hospitality sector, but progress is painfully slow. It is not enough to own small establishments and B&Bs, we need to be out there playing in the landscape of major hospitality groups. The opportunities are there, we just need serious funding support to be made available and actual investment in women ownership. As women, we must stand together. COVID19 taught us during the lockdown how resilient and strong this industry is and how important it was working together. This is what we must do now to help the cause of women.

Women don’t have to prove themselves anymore. We have always worked hard to deliver results. I am proud of what we have achieved in this industry and what we continue to achieve.

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