The department of Tourism is calling on more women to venture into entrepreneurship, especially in the tourism sector.

Speaking at the Women in Tourism Conference held in Port Elizabeth earlier this week, Minister Tokozile Xasa said although there is progress in the number of women making inroads in the sector, more empowerment is needed.

The conference focuses mainly on issues affecting women in the sector including skills development.

The hospitality industry is one of the industries that are doing well in incorporating women into the tourism sector. Eleven women from New Brighton’s Red location started a back-packers lodge in this township.

The closure of the Red Location Museum affected this business, however women have found other ways of sustaining their business.

They hire out the venue for events, or turn one of the dorms into a venue that could be utilised for workshops, and offer catering services.

Barbra Mkatali from the lodge says they need more skills to develop this business.

“As elderly women, we would love to get more skills so that we are able to develop and be able to maintain the business. Our wish is to extend this building so that we are able to be on the same level as other businesses in town. For example this week there is a tourism event, but all the guests are sleeping in Summerstrand, but we are also here and we want our business to grow.”

Women are also encouraged to develop themselves while creating jobs.

Tuka Smith who runs a beauty spa and clothing boutique says her aim is to create employment services. “With my garments, I create employment. With that being said there are ladies who help me with designs, some fabrics are imported and others local. The ladies across the country will help me pick the stuff and I love vibrant colours because it represents us women we are vibrant, we are loud, we are out there and we want to be heard.”

Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa says her department has introduced skills development programs and is also coming up with new methods that could grow their businesses.

Xasa added that, the department has introduced a portal that can assist women to access funding from the department.

“We are going through the provinces to introduce this portal so that SMMEs can plug into it, can market themselves and we get to know them so that we are able to direct them to where they can get support and also link with other enterprises within the industry.”

The department says, although the numbers are not satisfactory, the number of businesswomen in this sector is growing.