Throughout women’s month (August), South Africa’s tourism community will celebrate the role of women in the industry through the #IAmTourism campaign. Women represent 70% of the tourism workforce, a fact that the campaign seeks to highlight, as well as the extent to which they have been impacted by the pandemic.

Women represent 70% of the tourism workforce.

The story of one #IAmTourism woman will be featured every day of August – 31 days, 31 women and 31 unique stories. Each narrative will explore how they got into tourism, their journey since lockdown began, what they believe the role of tourism is in their lives and that of their families, the importance of tourism to South Africa and what they would say to inspire their fellow women in travel.

Thembi Kunene, spokesperson for the #IAmTourism campaign, says, “We are profiling 31 #IAmTourism women from all roles within tourism, all walks of life, all parts of the country.” By taking this approach, the campaign gives a face and a human story to what would otherwise be a statistic.

The campaign gives a face and a human story to what would otherwise be a statistic.

Additionally, over 2 200 of women with #IAmTourism signs have been shared to social media to underscore just how many women have been affected by lockdown. You can view the photos here.

The Bureau of Economic Research has forecast that 1.15 million tourism jobs are in jeopardy if South Africa does not open its borders to tourism by the end of 2020. Since the UIF TERS was launched, 600 000 tourism employees have claimed for it.

“It is deeply concerning that women appear to have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 retrenchments in tourism. Now more than ever, the women of South Africa need support to become financially independent and to support their families,” says Kunene-Msimang.

“Now more than ever, the women of South Africa need support to become financially independent and to support their families.”

She adds, “For an industry that has the potential to provide that financial independence and employ low- and semi-skilled women and youth, especially in areas where no other industries operate, it is essential that we bring our voice as women in tourism to bear.”

Kunene-Msimang strongly encourages women working in tourism to submit their comments on the Tourism Sector Recovery Strategy by 15
August 2020. If you have comments that relate specifically to the empowerment of women in tourism, you can also email them to women@traveltosouthafrica.org and the #IAmTourism lobby will submit them to the Department of Tourism.

IAmTourism is part of the larger ‘South Africa is Travel Ready’ campaign, which supports the inbound tourism industry’s efforts to reopen tourism as quickly as possible, as safely as possible. It is driven by a collection of PR & Communication agencies in the tourism and hospitality space, including African Twist Travel, Big Ambitions Marketing, Darling Lama, Hunter Group, Lesley Simpson Communications, Scribe Consulting, Take Note Reputation Management, Tribeca Public Relations and Vuma Reputation Management.