INTERNATIONAL Labour Organisation (ILO), Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda have agreed to maintain decent work and socially responsible tourism in the region.
The agreement was reached at a two-day sub-regional tripartite workshop at Lake Manyara Wildlife Lodge where the government officials, trade union representatives and workers attended.
The meeting delegates generally agreed on the need to have decent work in the seemingly picking up tourism sector.
ILO Programme Officer, Anthony Rutabanzibwa said it was unfortunate that for many years tourism sector operated under conditions where workers were paid low salaries or had unfair contracts We are now happy that the government representatives, employers and workers have come and agreed on these issues.
They have agreed to go and improve the working environment with workers getting their fair deal," said Mr Rutabanzibwa.
He said that he saw political will and hoped that all will go well in realising the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number eight that seeks to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Ugandan Senior Labour Officer, Mupapa Perbin said they will recommend for ratification of Convention 172 on working conditions in hotels and restaurants, adding that stakeholders will be consulted to ensure decent work in tourism.
Head of Unit, Sectoral Policies Department at Geneva ILO Office, Mariagels Fortuny said the focus is on tourism because the sector is emerging, bringing a lot of youth and women, but with no decent work.
The meeting aimed at knowledge sharing among participants on policy priorities for the design of holistic sustainable tourism development policies with a view to improve productivity and working conditions in the sector and capacity building on promotion of tourism guidelines.
It focused on the role of tourism as a catalyst for jobs, inclusive socio- economic development and poverty reduction in rural areas and will pay particular attention to gender equality issues.
It focused on the need to invest in human resource development, addressing the need for targeted training and preparing for the future of work in fast evolving service sector, implementing international labour standards and promoting rights of people and groups vulnerable to discrimination, people with disabilities and gender equality.
Globally, tourism directly and indirectly contributes to job creation, particularly for women and youth while fuelling growth through micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC): Economic Impact 2019, in 2018, travel and tourism overall-directly and indirectly-generated 319 million jobs.
In Tanzania, according to ILO, the total contribution of tourism to GDP was nine percent and is expected to reach 10.1 percent 2028.
The sector generated 1.1 million jobs, representing 8.2 percent of total employment. In the same year, Uganda's tourism industry contributed 7.3 percent of GDP.
The sector overall generated 605,000 jobs, representing 6.3 per cent of total employment and the number expected to reach 900,000 jobs in 2028.
The three countries have great potential to further develop their tourism industry. However, decent work challenges including poor working conditions and low skill levels need to be addressed with a view to improve the industry's productivity and competitiveness.