Three Tanzanian women leaders in tourism have been recognized and honored for their excellence in tourism development in Africa at the just-ended Akwaaba African Travel Market in Nigeria.
The women tourism leaders, Devota Mdachi, the Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB); Zainab Ansell, Managing Director of Zara Tours; and Ms. Charity Githinji, a seasoned Tourism Marketing Executive, were honored and awarded top among 100 women leaders in travel and tourism in Africa.
The African Travel Top 100 Women is an award to the leaders, pioneers, and innovators in Africa. The Tanzanian women winners are among 20 percent of the 30 percent of women working in travel and tourism in Africa.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said more than 30 percent of businesses in Africa are run by women, and 36 percent of the continent’s tourism ministers are women, the highest number in the world.
Globally, the proportion of women participating in tourism at the decision-making level is low, especially considering the high number of women working in the lower and entry levels.
Tanzania’s three women emerged on top among 100 colleagues working in travel and tourism in Africa through nominations which took place from July 12-22 this year in Lagos, Nigeria, to nominate the best women promoters of travel and tourism in Africa, as well as leaders and stars in the tourist industry.
The women in tourism recognition took place at the 13th Akwaaba African Travel Market held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, on September 11 with the announcement of the top winners, the organizer of the travel show, Mr. Ikechi Uko said.
He noted that the 100 African women in travel award became necessary considering the role of women whom he pointed out constitute 70 percent of the workforce in the tourism industry.
Akwaaba African Travel Market, however, an annual international travel event organized by Akwaaba Travel Market is a meeting place for African travel and tourism investors to network, Uko said.
The award was instituted to celebrate the group of influential women tourism drivers who have remained largely unsung, to spur them to do more, and to encourage other women to get on board in the quest to put Africa in its pride of place on the global tourism map, he noted.
Many of the award recipients are tour operators, travel agents, hotel operators, tourism product developers and promoters, as well as those in allied businesses who have distinguished themselves in service offering and delivery.
The 13th Akwaaba African Travel Market also featured a jolly of rice challenge organized with the sole aim of promoting culinary tourism in West Africa.
The three Tanzanian women have been recognized among top leaders in tourism and travel in Africa through their contribution to the development of tourism in Tanzania.
Before her appointment as the Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), Ms. Devota Mdachi was first employed as the Tourist Information Officer at the TTB branch in Arusha way back in 1994, shortly after the launching of the board to replace the Tanzania Tourist Corporation (TTC).
Ms. Mdachi later rose to the level of Senior Tourist Information Officer in the year 2000, then Principal Tourist Information Officer and Head of the Tourist Information Centre in Dar es Salaam.
She was appointed the Director of Marketing in 2011, and the TTB Acting Managing Director in March 2014 before being confirmed to her current position as the Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board.
Ms. Mdachi has been recognized to be a great role model for women in Tanzania through the tourism sector and has been nominated as one of the most recent recipients of the “Nyerere Golden Awards” by the Mwalimu Nyerere Golden Awards in Science and Technology Achievements in 2014 and 2015 which recognizes women in Tanzania who have contributed towards community development and have genuinely imparted changes to people’s lives.
In 2016, the CEO of Pty Ltd of South Africa was recognized as the Country Winner in Government, Employed Official Sector of CEO Global Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Advanced French Language from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) in Tanzania, a Master of Arts (MA) in Tourism from the Open University of Tanzania (OUT), and Post Graduate Certificate in Tourism from the International School of Tourism in Rome.
Other than TTB, Ms. Mdachi worked with the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA) under the organization’s Marketing and Communications Department.
Another winner of the African Travel top 100 Women is Mrs. Zainab Ansell, owner and Managing Director of the Moshi-based ZARA Tours and Adventures, which she founded in 1986, specializing in Mount Kilimanjaro trekking expeditions.
ZARA Tours and Adventures has been ranked among the largest safari operators in the Kilimanjaro region, organizing full-service travel packages for Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru climbing expeditions, Zanzibar Island beach tours, hotel and tented camps accommodation services, airport transfers, and tour guide services in northern Tanzania.
ZARA Tours and Adventures has been recognized for its accountability to humanitarian assistance under its ZARA Charity, a non-government organization established in 2009 to support vulnerable groups in local communities.
The company has been running humanitarian programs to support poor children in Tanzania through its Responsible Travel commitments. ZARA Adventures has been donating US$15 from each of its clients as a donation to poor children and other groups of the needy.
Mrs. Ansell has received over 13 local and international awards; among them, the World Travel Market (WTM) Humanitarian Award and the Business Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2012). She holds several awards given to her on humanitarian and responsible tourism commitment she has shown to the world through her company.
Charity Githinji, an Event Organizer and Brand Manager in the hospitality sector, has been recognized for her tireless contributions to hospitality management in the areas of brands and training.
She is the Managing Director of Tandaza Africa in Tanzania, and is also a seasoned Brand Management Consultant and Marketer with extensive knowledge in the hospitality industry over the past 25 years.
She manages a brand with excellence in the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) sector with a couple of offshoot activities that include: golf tourism, family and group travel, as well as school and college group travel that includes mentorship.
Charity believes in social engagements to make a difference in the world and is a member of the Rotary Club of Arusha Mt. Meru in Northern Tanzania, Toastmasters International, and gives her time at STEMM International and the Col. Ngaleku Children’s Home located at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Her other professional activities include Team Africa and East Africa Women in Business Platform. She has been working closely with the East Africa Tourism Platform, engaging with private tourism sector stakeholders in Tanzania, rallying them to engage with the platform and work with other stakeholders from East Africa.
Mr. Uko, the official organizer of the Akwaaba African Travel Market, said the session was held under theme “Women in Tourism: Challenges and the Future,” and included open discussions about the roles played by leading women in tourism across Africa, various challenges facing them, and moves towards the curbing these challenges for now and the future.
There have been a rising number of young female tour operators in Nigerian tourism and across the world where the major players are women. The Akwaaba event in Lagos also served as mentorship and empowerment event for young women in tourism to learn skills and ways to thrive in this very challenging but lucrative business of tourism.
“With the rising population of women over the male population in Africa, a lot can be achieved when they come together. The event and sessions had delivered mentorship, empowerment, networking, and partnership within the tourism business environment among women in the industry,” said Mr. Uko.
This year’s event also featured the recognition of some leading Women in Tourism across Africa. The Akwaaba organizers have also hinted that this recognition has been well circulated within the African and the global tourist business networks.
Women participants for the nominations were drawn from Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Togo, Gambia, UAE, Tanzania, Liberia, Rwanda, Bahrain, Senegal, South Africa, Seychelles, Namibia, and Nigeria, among other African states.