In a coup for South Africa,
Tourism Minister, Tokozile Xasa, was elected one of two
deputy chairpersons of the Regional Commission for
Africa (CAF) during the 22nd General Assembly of the
United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in
On the sidelines of the UNWTO
General Assembly in Chengdu, held from 11 to 16
September 2017, Minister Xasa was appointed Deputy Chair
of the CAF for a two-year term alongside her counterpart
from the Gambia, Amat Bah. Kenya's Najib Balala was
elected to Chair the regional commission, succeeding
Zimbabwe's Walter Mzembi.
The regional tourism commissions enable member states to
meet once a year to discuss concerns and formulate
proposals to submit to the UNWTO for consideration.
"We extend our warm congratulations to Minister Xasa on
this significant appointment. It's a vote of confidence
in the vision and leadership shown by South Africa as a
major tourism player on the African continent and,
indeed, on the world stage," said South African
Tourism's Chief Executive Officer, Sisa Ntshona.
"Furthermore, to be voted into this important
position by her peers on the African continent is an
endorsement of Minister Xasa's zeal in pushing the
agenda of the African Union in multilateral engagements,
and her passion for championing women and small
businesses in the tourism sector. African tourism faces
its own distinct opportunities and challenges, and we
have every confidence in her ability to articulate these
on the global stage," he said.
Minister Xasa is also the convenor of tourism ministers
in the Southern African Development Community, after
South Africa took over the revolving Chairship of the
regional body in August.
Since 2011, she has spearheaded the National Department
of Tourism's Women in Tourism Programme to upskill,
empower and advance women in the tourism sector. This
initiative was prompted by the slow pace of gender
transformation in tourism and travel, locally as well as
globally, particularly when it comes to women in key
At this year's Africa's Travel Indaba in Durban,
Minister Xasa launched the Women in Tourism 30 in 5
(known as "WiT 30in5") public-private partnership to
increase the proportion of South African women in
tourism management positions to 30% in the next five
Significantly, 13 African countries are led by women in
the tourism portfolio and on the sidelines of the recent
UNWTO General Assembly, an informal session held by
these female tourism ministers took several progressive
resolutions to further the Women in Tourism agenda.
Key among these decisions was Ethiopia undertaking to
host a Women in Tourism Conference in Addis Ababa in
January 2018, to build, expand and refine the scope of
this initiative from a regional point of view.
The tourism ministers also undertook to share best
practice and learn from one another in promoting women
in the sector, tackle continent-wide challenges such as
women trafficking, and focus on connecting SMMEs with
bigger industry players for mutual benefit.