According to a press release by Association of South African Travel Agents (ASATA), "the travel sector consists of more than 1 780 branches or outlets, distributed across South Africa" with Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal being the provinces with the most outlets. 

South African women now dominate South Africa's travel and tourism sector. Although it only employs approximately 9 000 people, this is still a great stride for women and means that the sector is an empowering industry for us.

Nivashnee Naidoo who is the professional project and programme manager at ASATA explains that to empower women, "the industry has embarked on many training and development programmes aimed at women for example 'the Executive Development Programme for Women in Tourism'." 

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Nivashnee adds that steps have been taken to try remove the daily challenges women experience. For example, they have created "more effective support structures for women" by offering flexible working hours, provision of on-site creche facilities and nursing rooms.

"This is important for the balance between male and female, considering that women form the largest part of the travel workforce, the industry acknowledges that it is incumbent for them to support them [women] in this way," explains Nivashnee. 

In the travel industry specifically, Lynette Msomi who is the key account manager at FCM Travel Solutions says that within the Flight Centre Travel Group there are quite a number of initiatives that drive empowerment.

"The company structure encourages ownership of your customer portfolio and the earning potential is uncapped so, the more energy you put into delivering excellent service, the greater the reward." Lynette explains that this gives employees an opportunity to play a bigger role "within the organisation and share in the successes." 

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Nivashnee highlights that although the majority of senior positions are headed by men within ASATA, there is still a considerable number of women in leadership roles and the number is growing. "The travel industry has also embarked on many initiatives to empower black women to not only gain employment within the sector, but also to progress to senior roles for example during organisational succession planning," she adds. 

If you are thinking of venturing into the travel and tourism sector, Lynette says that the industry is tough but it is also wonderful. "A lot of people start but don't make it because they don't expect it to be so tough. So, you need to have courage and perseverance but, most of all, you need to have passion for the industry," she advises. 

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