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Women embracing the tourism industry

Mon, 20 July 2015 04:20
by Donald Matthys

Tourism presents a wide range of income-generating opportunities for women in both formal and informal employment, and the fairer sex have shown that they can also participate actively in all forms of this sector.
Marina Lamprecht is a female safari-hunter who says she does not believe tourism is a gender-specific sector, and that women can survive anywhere.
“As long as one has the necessary skills, an in-depth knowledge of as well as pride in our country and our people, and the ability to be a goodwill ambassador for Namibia on every level, you can achieve great heights in tourism”, she enthused.
Lamprecht said she adapted easily in the wilderness in tourism by catching ‘khaki-fever’ at an early age.
“My husband, Joof Lamprecht, has always been a passionate hunter, so we founded our safari company together in 1984.
The most important mindset when dealing with tourists is the willingness to serve and make your guests feel comfortable and welcome in your environment”, she added.
She manages the day-to-day activities as well as marketing of the safari, and is thus faced with many tasks like dealing with international tourists, wildlife and vegetation, and most importantly, a team of hard-working and dedicated staff members.
Lamprecht said she has not experienced criticism for being a female hunter.
“As long as one is competent, confident and successful, no one questions one’s gender”, she stressed, adding that they hunt selectively and sustainably, focusing on harvesting old post-reproductive male animals.
Twapewa Kadhikwa is the owner of the Xwama restaurant in Katutura, and says being a woman in a tourism business is quite challenging.
She stressed that in order to succeed fully, you must be able to run your business in a competitive way. “Matching best-practices and keeping the customer always in mind”, Kadhikwa said, are important elements.
She further stated that it is a big responsibility running a tourism and hospitality business, especially because of the setting of their business, which allows tourists to question the value of their restaurant.
“We face daily criticisms with regards to the fact that we are based in Katutura. It requires that we must provide 150% service and a quality product. We cannot be just good, we must be and remain excellent”, Kadhikwa told The Villager.
She has a strong positive perception towards the survival of women in the tourism sector.
“Yes, women can survive. We also just need more support because of our social roles, creating part-time employment or full-time employment is not an easy thing”, the entrepreneur noted.
According to Kadhikwa, there are definitely day-to-day challenges they are facing. When it comes to financing, banks make it deliberately difficult for them to succeed in the tourism industry, she added.
“They do not always understand the business model, especially in cultural tourism, like in our case with Xwama. So, it’s my duty to push our agenda and to seek success”, she stated.
When it comes to the hospitality and tourism side of business, standards are extremely important.
“It is advisable to expose oneself to these, and then operate your business in line with the set standards. If you do not do that, your operation in hampered”, she advised.
“As you are aware, employees are very critical to a tourism business, and that is why it is one of the highest employment-creating sectors.
You need to know what you want from them in order to get the desired output. If you misfit that, then your productivity will be hampered by poor output.  Once you have a lot of employees, clear and defined job descriptions are key, otherwise you will have a lot of operational challenges. I speak from experience”, Kadhikwa said.
She currently employs 48 people at Xwama restaurant and also runs a chicken farm, the Kadhikwa Chicken Farm, which employs 55 people.
Otjikaendu Den, run by Melba Tjahere, is also situated in Katutura.
According to her, she started the hospitality spot to attract tourists and to let them taste “the goodness in Namibian traditional food, especially the goat head we prepare very well”.
Tjahere said she has been running the business for a long time since 2002 and although competitors are coming up, her business is feeding international visitors.
“The only challenge I face is those women in the same business like mine”, she noted.