This is what you missed from the UNWTO regional congress
Has COVID 19 made a positive or negative impact on women in tourism? Keep reading to find out more.
On the 24th of November 2019, I travelled to Ghana to attend the first UNWTO Regional Congress on Women Empowerment that celebrates women’s contribution to tourism growth in Africa.
It was my first time in Ghana and the famous Ghanaian sun I heard about did not fail to disappoint.
Prior to my visit I had always wanted to travel to Ghana for leisure, but I guess I am more of a MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) traveler than a leisure traveler.
Or let’s just say I could not pass by such an opportunity when I heard the conference was going to be hosted in West Africa.
For two days, some of the brightest minds in African and global tourism converged at the Accra International Conference Centre to answer tough questions that women in tourism and business generally are confronted with on the continent.
TheFisayo and the UNWTO General Secretary Zurab Pololikashvili
Also present were high-powered delegation from the UNWTO led by its General Secretary Zurab Pololikashvili, Ghana’s Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, Minister For Tourism Arts and Culture of Ghana Barbara Oteng Gyasi.
During the congress, dinteresting statistics were shared on women’s involvement in tourism, here are a few:
- 54% of people employed in tourism are women
- 39% of people employed in the broader economy are women
- Women in tourism earn 14.7% less than men
- Women in boarder economy earn 16.8% less than men
- 23% of tourism ministers are women
- 7% of government ministers are women
Pololikashvili stated that the “UNWTO is firmly committed to breaking down the barriers women face in the tourism sector so that tourism may stay at the forefront of gender equality efforts here in Africa and across the world.
Delivering the keynote address Regional Director ai, UN Women Central and West Africa, Oulimata Sarr made a strong appeal for equal opportunities for women across the broad spectrum of things that are needed to help ladies succeed.
She mentioned -“there is nothing micro about financing women’s tourism businesses. We need credit lines, venture capital and a totally new perspective to expand women’s access to finance across the sector.”
The Vice President of the Republic of Ghana Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, revealed measures by the Ghana Government to streamline tourism related activities for both local and international tourists.
These tourism measures include:
The launch of the E-visa regime in the year 2020, the introduction of a Universal QR code to enabling the Ghanaian economy to become more cashless;
The passage of the Creative Arts Bill (pending parliamentary approval) which will make provision for the establishment of the Creative Arts Fund to give financial support the Creative Arts, Tourism and Culture Sector in Ghana.
Bawumia stated “to advance tourism’s contribution to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and achieving our common goal of gender equality, mainstreaming gender considerations across the tourism sector is extremely important”.
Asides the numerous conferences and panels I listened to at the 2 day congress, I also attended some master classes on Innovation in Tourism hosted by UNWTO in partnership with IE University .
In addition, UNWTO launched the first Tourism Online Academy in collaboration with IE University.
This is an online learning platform that provides self-paced, 100% online courses that is mainly focused on the tourism sector.
It includes some free and paid courses which is available to anyone that applies. Some of the programs include managerial skills in digital marketing, finance, strategy, operations, innovation and digital transformation.
The next day, I attended panel sessions on “Financing Women Empowerment through Tourism” and “Education and Technology as Tool for Women’s Socio-Economic Advancement in Tourism”.
After this we had some networking session at the gala dinner.
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Coming to Ghana has been more than worth it. My reason for coming was to attend the #UNWTO regional congress on women empowerment in tourism sector and network also!! 🥳 I was honored to meet and connect with: 1. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General @zurabpololikashvili 2. The First Lady of SPAIN María Begoña Gómez Fernández 3. Zhu Shanzhong the Executive Director of the @unwto 4. Natalia Bayona 5. Elcia Grandcourt - the @unwto regional director for Africa 6. Dr. Nanayaa Owusu-Prempeh (Rev.) 7. Ministers of Tourism from different African countries. 8. Kojo Bentum Williams @kojobentumwilliams, the Senior Expert on Communications for UNWTO for Africa 🌍 These are the tourism shapers that I could have only dreamt of seeing, now I’m glad to be connected with them. (@ajalanene @rhoda_yn @akosuashirley @thattokelady and MYSELF just kept picturing ourselves on that stage as a future world leader in tourism). And we know it’s gonna happen because we are putting in the work and God is on our side. Fam, I know it’s not always going to be convenient, but when you can, I advice you go out there, invest in attending networking events, meet people in person and let them know what you do. There are so many opportunities out there, let me know if you want me to add you to an events WhatsApp group where I and a few other people share such events. . 📌 Accra, Ghana 🇬🇭 .
Elcia Grandcourt – The UNWTO Regional Director in Africa.
Now you may ask, why do I decide to share this now?
- Because it is long overdue, you needed all this information in here and I feel bad for not giving you on time.
- Report by Statista – shows that the travel and tourism industry is worth $2.9Trillion globally as at 2019.
It is clear from the previous UNWTO statistics that women helped shape the tourism industry yet there is still a disparity in women’s pay grade and positions.
As a tourism development advocate, I am bringing forward this information to you if you are not already aware, and I am beckoning on you to change things if you are in a position to do so.
A financially independent mother or woman produces a happy family, this is working with the assumption that she now has more time to focus on building her children value system and moral standards because she no longer has to worry about how she would earn more money.
A happy family with well mannered children equals to a better world with reduced crime rates and corruption. A world with reduced crime rates and corruption equals to the attainment of the 16th SDG – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and more.
Everything starts with the family, and the mother plays an important role in shaping the outcome of her children. Empower the woman and give her the pay and position she is due.
The First Lady of SPAIN María Begoña Gómez Fernández.
3. Has covid- 19 affected women in tourism?
The truth is this, I am going to talk from my own experience as a woman and I will lay more emphasis on the UNWTO global statistics on women.
It has been established that the 54% of the tourism players are women.
Before coronavirus, there we had more women steadily making the decisions to start a travel agency or a tour operating business to design travel experiences for tourists.
However, with Covid-19, this is practically impossible, what most women like myself are doing is looking inwards, strategizing ways we can add more value to our audience and clients leveraging technology.
If you read my previous article on the impact of corona virus on the tourism industry, you would already be familiar with the solutions I proffered with reference to how we can leverage technology.
If you have not read it, click here to read. Most women like myself have resulted into doing one or more of the following:
- Teaching online master classes on travel blogging
- Creating more videos on YouTube to promote destinations in Africa
- Using Instagram and other online tools to host webinars
- Learning new skills on how to strategize ways to make more money.
- Others are starting new hobbies to use their voices for change e.g starting a blog
I spoke with the President of Women in Hospitality in Nigeria; Amaka Amatokwu – Ndekwu about the impact on the industry, and here is her advice:
- Now is the best time for collaborations and partnerships.
- Travel companies need to develop strategies to regain customer’s confidence in travelling and site seeing.
Tell me, if you are a woman, what has been the effect of COVID-19 on your business and how are you dealing with it?