Women in Business and Tourism in Nigeria (WIBAT) has called on women to seek empowerment that would enable them take up influential roles and move the country’s tourism sector forward.
Mrs Sophia Khan, the President of WIBAT, made the call in her address of welcome at the Women Tourism Development Conference to celebrate the 2021 World Tourism Day (WTD), on Monday, in Abuja.
The conference, with the theme: “Women for Inclusive Tourism Development’’, was organized by WIBAT and sponsored by El-Khan Group, House 7 Resort and Safara Africa Magazine.
Khan said that WIBAT was an ecosystem association with members drawn from tourism sub-sectors like Hospitality, Food, Art and culture, Fashion, Media, Agriculture, Transportation and Sports.
“We believe Tourism can be developed or promoted by each of these sub-sectors. As women in business and Tourism, we are determined to change the narrative.
“We call for a change in the narrative by empowering women to take up business roles in the many forms of tourism available.
“Women have what it takes to change the narrative using the power in their voices. We will achieve success if we put together collective efforts in making sure Tourism is not limited and its growth not truncated,’’ Khan said.
She explained that WTD was an annual event celebrated all over the world to raise awareness on the roles of tourism in the local and international communities and to demonstrate how it affected social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.
According to her, the sector has just gone through difficult times and was coming out from its weakest moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Khan stressed that it was a true test of the sector that saw tourism businesses at their lowest.
“This, as we know, led to massive unemployment, low revenue generation all over the world and uncertainty. We cannot overemphasise the effect the tourism industry has on other sectors of the economy, positively and otherwise.
“With the perception of the end of these trying times in the Industry and a new dawn that heralds the new normal, it is only fitting that the WIBAT celebrates what brings us together and makes us one,’’ she said.
The Tanzania High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Benson Alfred Bana, represented by Mr Philbert Bachokemu Peter, the Head of Economic diplomacy in the Commission, said women were strong and possessed all that it takes to make things right.
He noted that the President of Tanzania was a female along with the Ministers of Defence and foreign Affairs of the country.
Peter encouraged women to be in the forefront of development, because they are strong and have the power to change the narrative in the tourism sector for good.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador of Guinea to Nigeria, Mr Cissoko Siaka, represented by Ms Doumbouya Fatoumata, a staff in the embassy, called on WIBAT to assist women in Guinea on tourism.
According to Cissoko, there were women associations in Guinea, but not strong enough like their Nigerian counterparts.
He added that if women in West Africa could come together to build on their strength, they would go far in changing the narrative on the sector.
Also speaking, Ms Adaora Onyechere, a gender activist, said policy engagement was key to carrying women along in all spheres of development.
She emphasised that this had become imperative because policy affected the lives of the people, including those in the grassroots.
“And, as such when women are involved, it would go a long way to bring out policy that would favour their empowerment, development and enhancement.
“Women are custodians of culture and as such should have a voice and a say in policy making and implementation,’’ Onyechere said.
Similarly, Mrs Fidelia Salami, Chairman, Board of Directors, Delta State Tourism Board, in her presentation entitled “Women leadership and empowerment; a catalyst for economic growth in Nigeria’’ stressed that women were the bedrock of any society.
Salami called on women in positions of power, first ladies and female celebrities, to build the capacities of other women, adding that there was need to provide women with concrete leadership abilities.
Dr Ibukun Adebayo, a serial entrepreneur, in her presentation entitled, “Closing the gender gap for Marketplace dominance”, lamented that women were many in numbers, but, unfortunately, they lacked dominance and visibility.
Adebayo said there was the urgent need for women to contribute to the success of the tourism sector in the country.
She called on women to be ambitious, hardworking, avoid being over-sentimental or emotional, and set goals, be focused and imbibe strategic patience.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the high points of the event was the presentation of prizes to students, who won the essay competition on Tourism, and unveiling a book on `Tourism Business Opportunities in Nigeria’ written by Chioma Obi.
The event attracted officials of the National Park Service and other relevant stakeholders in the sector, from cross the federation. (NAN)