Women’s Month

In celebration of Women’s Month and the spirit of Charlotte Maxeke, the Department of Tourism advances the ethos of transformation and an equitable society through its gender-focussed 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.

Executive Development Programme

Through our Executive Development Programme (EDP), the Department capacitates black women managers with an NQF Level 8 qualification at UNISA to address the lack of senior female leaders in the tourism industry.

The programme aims to create a pool from which employers can tap into to close the gap of black women in executive management positions in the sector.

The Department enrolled 40 women into the EDP during the 2021 academic year.

National Mentorship Movement

The Department places a sharp focus on mentorship to promote sustainability and continuity. In partnership with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), the Department is implementing a pilot mentorship programme.

The TBCSA appointed the National Mentorship Movement to implement the programme and to date mentors have volunteered their time to provide mentorship to support up to 50 graduates of the Executive Development Programme and beneficiaries and SMMEs which participated in the Hidden Gems Programme. These mentors hail from various industry associations and the programme has received strong support across the sector.


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