How trailblazing women are driving recovery in the tourism sector

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

“Women no longer have to prove themselves. We have always worked hard to deliver results. I am proud of what we have achieved and what we continue to achieve in this industry.

If COVID19 has taught the tourism and hospitality sector one thing, it’s that women are the backbone and cornerstone of our industry’s growth, showing great strength and resilience in times of crisis. In fact, I think women have played an important role in helping brands that work to survive the global pandemic.

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

We understand how women in turbulent times face the climate crisis and how to excel, driving innovation and trailblazing.

I did not study hospitality or tourism, but started in 2003 in a position with a major hotel group. That’s where I fell in love with the industry and that love affair continues all these years later. Over the years and now in my current position, I have seen first-hand how the glass ceiling that has discouraged women in the tourism industry for decades has been removed.

More and more women are entering tourism and hospitality as owners and stakeholders, as well as running tourism authorities and industry associations. Here in South Africa there are more women than ever in the executive ranks. There are so many opportunities for women in this industry right now and 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 coming back and fast. During the lockdown it was important to re-strategize and re-target quickly. Especially for well-known international brands that depended heavily on international tourists. Similarly, the conferencing and MICE markets when companies stop not only business travel but also incentive and motivational visits to other countries.

Being involved with online marketing and digital marketing campaigns was a lifeline. As well as engaging in more creative social media engagement to work with both traditional and online agents.

I strongly believe that going through the pandemic has helped future proof tourism not only locally, regionally, but globally. We had to change the way we worked and focus on new markets and were better at creating and executing strategies that helped us survive where many did not.

I am passionate about driving transformation and empowerment for women in the tourism industry.

One of the things that is important to me is to uplift each other as women.

There are some very strong women who are pioneering and trailblazing in the hospitality sector, but progress is painfully slow. It is not enough to own small bed and breakfast establishments and guest houses, we must be out there playing in the major hospitality group scenario. The opportunities are there, we need serious funding support and real investment in women ownership to make them available. As women, we need to unite. During the lockdown, COVID19 has taught us how resilient and strong the industry is and how it works together. What we need to do now to help the women’s cause.

Women no longer have to prove themselves. 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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