A very successful 2nd Annual Southern Africa Women in Tourism Conference with the theme ‘Creating opportunities for inclusive development and social transformation’ was held in Lilongwe, Malawi. During the conference, which was hosted by the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) and attracted more than 200 delegates from 11 SADC countries, Prof Ernie Heath from the Department of Business Management presented a paper, entitled ‘Opportunities and Challenges in the Dynamically Changing Environment: How can Women in Tourism Strategically Respond?’. He was also invited to facilitate panel discussions on ‘Funding Women Run Tourism Businesses’ and ‘The Establishment of a Regional Women in Tourism Fund’.
A key outcome of the conference was the launching of a Southern Africa Women in Tourism Awards initiative, which will aim to recognize women’s contributions and projects in tourism development in SADC member states.
Prof Heath said that he was truly encouraged by the passion and professionalism of the speakers, panel members and delegates, as well as the many success stories that were shared. “It was also very encouraging to see how committed development organisations and financial institutions that participated in the conference are to support women in tourism in the future.”
Some of the critical success factors for the future that were identified during the conference, focussed on relevant research to inform future tourism strategies and plans, as well as tourism awareness and educational capacity building programmes for public and private sector stakeholders in Southern Africa.