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Tourism sector in Oman needs more women leaders
February 21, 2016 | 10:13 PM
by Staff Reporter
More than 150 industry leaders, attended the 2ndLady Leaders of Tourism Event. Photo-OK Mohammed Ali
 
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Muscat: Creation of job opportunities for women is the ministry’s vision and mission, according to Maitha bint Saif Al Mahrouqi, undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism.

“Only 26 per cent of women work in Oman’s tourism industry. Women’s leadership in the tourism sector is very important and there is an urgent need to attract more Omani women at various professional levels,” said Al Mahrouqi at the opening of the 2nd Lady Leaders of Tourism Event at Oman Tourism College on Sunday.

“Various government initiatives are underway towards realising this objective, and the private sector must focus more on creating job opportunities for women from local communities”, she noted. According to Al Mahrouqi, one of the most resilient industries, and one of the five sectors identified for Oman’s economic diversification, tourism is poised to play a significant role in the Sultanate’s future.

“The tourism industry is the most active industry in the world,” Al Mahrouqi added.



“Our government’s mission is not only to create job opportunities, but they should be sustainable jobs,” Al Mahrouqi remarked.

The Omani government is considering tourism to become one of the nation’s main sectors, though others consider it to be a secondary sector.

Al Mahrouqi also stressed the need for developing responsible and sustainable tourism to minimise the cultural, social and environmental impacts of tourism.

‘Responsible Tourism’ is one of the major areas of Oman Tourism Strategy 2014.

“The private sector is expected to play a key role in this”, she said.

Al Mahrouqi also revealed the government’s plan to boost Omani tourism through developing 11 regions into tourism clusters.

“Each region will have its own identity,” she explained.

More than 150 industry leaders, representing 30 tourism companies, including international hotel chains, SMEs, tour operators and tourism developers, as well as industry stakeholders, attended

the event.

Prof. Dipra Jha from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln gave a presentation on the scope and relevance of community partnerships in a responsible tourism industry. This was followed by a lecture on Corporate Social Responsibility in Tourism by Shaima Al Lawati, the CEO of Sustainable Square Oman.

Also, a joint exhibition was held with various social organisations, together with the Oman Cancer Association, Oman Hereditary Blood Disease Association, Omani Women’s Association, Oman Water Association, Injaz Oman and Dar Al Atta’a.

Two examples of responsible tourism were displayed during the seminar by Ritz Carlton Community Footprints Programme, which was delivered by Sameer Al Ghafri, and Responsible Tourism in a local community was presented by Abdulrahman Al Abri of Misfat Old House.

Further, a panel discussion on the Benefits of Responsible Tourism to Companies was held, being led by Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, German University of Technology, along with participants Shaima Al Lawati, Sustainable Square Oman, Rasha Al Madani, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah and Abdulrahman Al Abri, Misfat Old House.

Topics discussed by industry leaders included aspects of responsible tourism, in a bid to create better places for people to live in, and better places to visit, through minimizing negative economic, environmental and social impacts, and generating economic benefits for local people and host communities.

Other points discussed included conservation of the natural and cultural heritage, and creating enjoyable experiences for tourists through meaningful connections with local people and a greater understanding of their cultural, social and environmental issues.

According to organisers, Lady Leaders in Tourism is an initiative to provide women working in the tourism and hospitality industry with opportunities to network, learn and support each other, as well as inspire other women to join the industry. The event closed with a networking lunch.

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