“We’re ready to get back to work, Mr. President” – South Africa’s women in tourism stand behind #IAmTourism campaign to reopen tourism

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Some 2,500 women from all tourism backgrounds heeded the call this August to stand in solidarity with their sisters – an industry whose workforce comprises 70% women and has been ravaged by the effects of the lockdown.

The images gathered throughout the month of August during the #IAmtourism campaign to raise awareness about the important role of tourism in South Africa’s economy and the importance of tourism to the livelihoods of women, have been brought together in the image of a lioness, sending a strong message to Government that tourism women are ready and eager to get to work immediately. “Like lionesses, we are ferocious in our desire to work together and protect South Africa’s share of its international tourism market,’’ says campaign spokesperson Thembi Kunene-Msimang.

‘’As South Africa enters Tourism Month in September, we believe this is the perfect time to shine a lens through the #IAmTourism lobby on the incredible potential of the tourism sector to stimulate its recovery and ensuring inclusive economic growth and employment.”

This is especially since South Africa is preparing to announce its GDP Q2 numbers, which economists expect to be down by as much as 53%.

Standing proudly in solidarity with their sisters in South Africa’s tourism sector, the series of #IAmTourism women was so well received, not only by our domestic tourism sector, but also supporters of South Africa, it gained traction internationally.  South Africa can reopen its tourism sector safely, but it requires an enabling environment, which includes the reopening of international borders, an improved visa regime and air access, among others, to help fast-track our recovery from Covid19.

Women comprise 70% of South Africa’s tourism workforce and have been the worst affected by the shutdown that has left the tourism sector reeling since even before the lockdown was announced. This is the reason why for each day of August, South Africa is Travel Ready featured the story of one #IAmTourism woman from all sub-sectors of tourism, all backgrounds and all roles, giving a voice to the women in tourism whose voices have been lost in the COVID-19 lockdown.

With the opening of inter-provincial domestic leisure travel, there has been an encouraging spike in local demand for travel and this has provided the much-needed hope to the women in tourism. However, to safeguard tourism’s significant contribution to the economy and reignite South Africa’s economy, there is an urgent need to reopen international tourism, in a responsible and safe manner. 

“#IAmTourism women continue to support Government’s on-going efforts to balance the overriding objective of saving lives and preserving livelihoods and ask that our de-risked sector that has adopted stringent health and hygiene safety be recognised accordingly’’.

explains Kunene-Msimang.

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