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Women gather in Port Elizabeth for Women in Tourism Conference

By Afikile Lugunya - Nov 29, 2017
Women gather in Port Elizabeth for Women in Tourism Conference

Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa on Tuesday visited the Nelson Mandela Bay for the official launch of a Women in Tourism (WiT) Conference in Port Elizabeth. 

The conference, which will conclude on Wednesday, is being hosted at the Boardwalk Hotel's International Conferencing Centre under the theme 'Sustainable Tourism: A tool for Radical Socio-Economic Development for women.'

Addressing delegates, the Minister said that conferences like this one are important because they highlight challenges that need to be dealt with and that is when solutions come up.

“The conversations that we have as women about skills, market access, funding and issues of ownership, we believe, are important because they highlight the challenges that we need to deal with.

“The Women in Tourism Conference is very important for us because it talks to the majority, who are in the sector, but unfortunately are found in the lower levels of the industry,” Min.Xasa said.

“Although tourism plays a big part in the GDP, a lot needs to be done in terms of transformation; we should give platforms to women coach and give them support."

She highlighted that when the hospitality sector, when compared with other tourism-related industries, is lagging behind in transforming.

“Big businesses have not done their role in terms of meeting their BBBEE targets. This leaves a space for us to think of ways that will improve the situation by getting women to participate," Min Xasa added.

She said that includes women taking advantage of expos and exhibitions to showcase and market their products.

Recycling fashion

An old or torn jean has no space in the dustbin, according to a local entrepreneur, Rowel Barendse, who has started a business where she recycles old jeans to useable products and even hand bags.

She showcased her products at the conference.

“I wanted to empower unemployed ladies, so that they can create income. I am making money out of  this and we do word by mouth, advertising through SOS and we have frequent customers buying our products," Barendse told RNEWS.

"All the denims are donations including the zips and 80% of the stuff are made from donations.”

She said that she had secured orders and buyers from as far as Pretoria at the conference.

Another business minded woman with a passion for fashion, Zikhona Mkhiva, said that she quit her job to start her fashion business.

“I always had a sewing passion since I was very young. I used to work, but I quit to start my sewing business as I felt suffocated at work because I couldn’t concentrate.

“I always wanted to create things, so I decided to change my hobby to a profession. I started working on my business in 2015 and now I have a shop in boardwalk craft corner called Zee-M Collection and I supply couple of shops in East London, King Williamstown and Port Elizabeth,” Mkhiva told RNEWS.

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