Women’s Development Programmes

Tourism has the potential to address the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality through job creation. Apart from generating revenue, tourism provides economic opportunities for women and youth, supports the development of SMMEs and has the potential to foster social cohesion. This strategic pillar of South Africa’s economy has an extensive value chain and has multiple linkages with other sectors of the economy which generates significant multiplier effects.

The following departmental programmes lend specific impetus to our transformation agenda.


Women in Tourism​

This programme is an initiative that propels and supports the development and empowerment of women in the tourism sector. Since its inception in 2013, the programme serves as a mechanism to elevate the status of women in tourism by providing training, empowerment and networking opportunities that facilitate their competitiveness as entrepreneurs, professionals and leaders.

The programme developed an agenda and identified interventions that assist in realising the Women in Tourism objectives. The main focus areas of this programme, have to date, included training on personal development, supporting women to develop a competitive advantage in their businesses and provision of capacity building initiatives.

Participants in the programme include entrepreneurs, women working in the sector, students and women from the informal sector who seek to enter the tourism value chain. This programme has chapters in all provinces.

More information can be found at www.tourism.gov.za/CurrentProjects/Pages/Women_In_Tourism.aspx

UNWTO-Women in Tourism Pilot Project

South Africa was selected to partner with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to conduct a three-year pilot programme to assess the state of women in tourism in South Africa.

This pilot project, conducted in Mopani and Vhembe Districts in Limpopo, was conceived to address the inequity in terms of benefit accrual and empowerment opportunities for women within the tourism sector.

The overall objectives of the three-year UNWTO - Women in Tourism pilot project, are to promote and empower female entrepreneurs; increase employment opportunities; stimulate advancement and promotions for female employees; improve leadership and decision-making across all levels; increase awareness amongst community and civil society regarding the benefits of tourism and the importance of gender equality; as well as to promote a culture of female leadership within the tourism industry.

Media statement: Women in Tourism boosted with empowerment pilot project in Limpopo.pdf

Executive Development Programme

The Executive Development Programme for black Women in Tourism project was designed to empower women leaders through extensive leadership training and coaching, finance and marketing knowledge, and a substantial understanding of relevant business strategies in tourism that compete on a global scale. Through the Executive Development Programme (EDP), the Department capacitates black women managers with an NQF Level 8 qualification to address the lack of senior female leaders in the tourism industry.

The objectives of the programme are to ensure that senior female leaders in the tourism industry can overcome leadership challenges by developing and directing innovative organizational strategies in a complex environment.  In addition, the programme creates a pool from which employers can tap into, to close the gap of black women in executive management positions in the sector.

The programme was implemented over five years, from the 2016/17 financial year to the 2021/22 financial with a total of 120 black Women trained. Since the commencement of the programme the Department recorded, 15 national promotions to Senior positions, 1 international promotion to an executive position and 1 student opened and registered a business in the hospitality sector. 

Currently, the programme is under review and it will resume again in the next financial year.


Women in Tourism Business Management and Mentorship Training Programme

The purpose of this project is to implement a business management training to women-owned enterprises in the tourism sector for a period of one year.  Given the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the operation of SMMEs, the training will also include business recovery awareness and business risk management. The project will cover SMMEs across the country. 

Through the training programme, we hope to facilitate the process of transforming the sector – making it inclusive and accessible to new businesses, especially businesses owned and managed by women and the youth. The outcome of the training includes, Business Plans (for example, each participant should be able to develop a business plan for future use to raise finance/support for her business by the end of the training programme; Marketing plans; day to day operational plans; and financial and recovery strategies for each of the participating SMME.

Twenty-five (25) of the Eastern Cape Women in Tourism members have been selected and accepted to take part in this training programme which is scheduled for 27-29 July 2022 in East London. Accommodation will be booked for participants who are coming from outside of East London and have to travel long distances to reach the training venue. The Department will cover these costs for accommodation and meals for the duration of training.


The Department continues to promote the transformation agenda to realise a fully inclusive sector through implementing its programmes with a sharp focus on women. In doing so, it gives expression to its mandate of realising an inclusive and vibrant tourism sector. For more information on our programmes, contact callcentre@tourism.gov.za