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 (WiT)


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


Women In Tourism National Coordinating Committee (Witncc) Strategic Planning Session


On the 03-04 May 2023, the Women in Tourism chairpersons met at Garden Court Hotel in Johannesburg, Gauteng to develop their strategic plan for the Women in Tourism Coordinating Committee. This then informed the Annual Action Plans of each of the nine chapters.  The strategic plan seeks to clarify their mandate in the tourism sector, how they fit in the tourism industry as well as to communicate plans that they have for the sector. It would also serve at their compass through the daily activities in leading all affiliated women in the tourism business structures in the country. Resolutions are in place.


Women in Tourism Breakfast Session With The Minister, 11 May 2023

The main purpose of the breakfast session at Africa Travel Indaba was to introduce the Women in Tourism Programme to the Minister and invite other women in the tourism sector to network with both the Minister and each other. The theme for the event was “Mimosas with Minister”. This event was a call to action for women in the industry to work together and utilise the opportunities afforded by the Department. The Women in Tourism Programme drives the inclusion of women entrepreneurs in the industry.


Women in Tourism Business Management and Mentorship Training Programme

Through the WiT, the Department of Tourism, together with partners has achieved the implementation of Business Management Training and mentorship for 225 women.

The purpose of this project is to implement a programme that will provide non-financial support to women-owned tourism sector businesses for a period of one year.


The training covered the following areas:


• Business Planning and Financial Management;

• Marketing Strategy and Sales;

• Human Resources, Operations and Risk Management; and

• Planning and managing in a crisis including building resilience; preparing for a crisis, managing in a crisis and recovering from a crisis.


This training was conducted in all provinces between June and August last year. Through WiT Capacity Building Initiatives, the Department in partnership with SA Tourism and the private sector, has also assisted 450 Women-owned tourism SMMEs. The Department of Tourism is also implementing the Enterprise Development Support Programme as one of its strategic programmes that facilitate the growth and sustainability of tourism SMMEs.


Business Advisory and Incubation Services


The Department of Tourism has adopted the incubation approach to improve inclusivity of the sector (and allow marginalized and vulnerable businesses and communities to access the travel & tourism value chain). Community-based enterprises, mainly led by women (with some involvement of male participants), in Limpopo Province (Mopani and Vhembe District Municipalities), have been chosen for the UNWTO WIT Pilot Programme. The aim of the program is to promote gender equality and inclusive economic development for women entrepreneurs within the tourism sector, focusing on:


1.      Leadership and Skills Development,

2.      Supplier Development,

3.      Market Access, and

4.      SMME Development and Mentorship.


The program has identified and selected seven projects for incubation:


1.      Baleni Salt Harvest

2.      Hihlurile Pot of Beads

3.      Twananani Textiles

4.      Mukondeni Pottery Village

5.      Nahakwe Lodge

6.      Scrap Metal Collectors for Art Gallery Production

7.      Three local home-based accommodation providers in Mashisimale village in Phalaborwa.


The overall objectives of the two-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.


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.




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​