The newly launched Association of Women in Tourism Tanzania (AWOTTA) has been urged to promote gender equality, women’s empowerment and take proactive steps to mainstream gender in tourism policies, planning and operations.
The Director of Tourism in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Ibrahim Mussa, who was the guest of honour at the launch of the association at the weekend in Dar es Salaam, commended women in tourism for the initiative to come up with the association.
He said empowerment of women through tourism was possible and promised AWOTTA his office would be willing to work on recommendations made by the association to the government.
Quoting Global Report on Women in Tourism 2010, the director said tourism offers the potential for women’s leadership. “However, women still only represent one fifth of all tourism ministers and tourism board chairs.
While tourism often contributes to Community development and provides opportunities for women’s self-employment, the report finds that women are contributing a large amount of unpaid work in tourism family businesses, especially when compared to other sectors,” he said.
The director also officially launched the associations website- www.awotta.org at the emotionally charged meeting, which was attend by over 100 women and a few men, in tourism sector from across the country.
Mary Kalikawe, the founder and first chairperson of AWOTTA said the association will work with stakeholders to identify tourist activities that it can support and it will be active around land issues for women tourism activities.
“AWOTTA will work with planners and owners of land to assist women in tourism business,” she said adding that placing women tourist activities at strategic places, will help boost local economy.
“More women will be able to control their own income,” she said.
Kalikawe said AWOTTA will be supporting women in tourism businesses and other tourism engagements, economically, legally and socially among other things.
Kenya Association of Women in Tourism (KAWT) chairperson Faith Kithu said the launching of AWOTTA was a big milestone for Tanzanians women in tourism industry. She told the director of tourism, that any time Tanzania government needs to work with women in tourism, AWOTTA members are available.
Hafsa Mbamba, Managing Director iof Grassroots Traveller in Zanzibar, said one of the core agenda of AWOTTA was promoting and further developing "sustainable tourism" in Tanzania.
AWOTTA has come into being with a list of 25 committed members from diverse locations- Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Mwanza, Tanga, Moshi and Bunda. Its launch was sponsored by Hotel Association of Tanzania (HAT) and Tanzania Private sector Foundation- Cluster Competitiveness programme (CCP).