Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa has called for the acceleration of women empowerment, especially at the decision making and executive levels so that women can make a meaningful contribution to the tourism industry.
"Women have an important role to play in transforming the industry and growing tourism," Deputy Minister Xasa said.
She was speaking at the opening of the Women in Tourism Conference in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.
A baseline study conducted by the Tourism BBBEE Council on the State of Tourism Transformation revealed that only 11% of enterprises had black women representation at boards, executive and senior management positions, and that the overall rate of transformation was slow.
"We must unite to work together to influence government's policies and programmes. Collectively, our active participation can result in a transformed and inclusive industry," Deputy Minister Xasa said.
More than 200 women from the African region gathered in Port Elizabeth for the annual Women in Tourism (WiT) Conference, which was held under the theme 'Sustainable Tourism: A Tool for Radical Socio-Economic Development for Women'.
The two-day conference provided a platform for dialogue on the challenges that affect the socio-economic empowerment of women, funding constraints, and the establishment of support structures and incentives.
"Radical social and economic transformation has been prioritised to accelerate the process of empowering South Africans, especially women and the youth, to play a meaningful role in building a sustainable economy.
"It is concerning that the representation of women at executive and senior management positions is low. Our collective participation is critical to transforming this sector," said Minister Xasa.