Tag Archive for: #womenintourism

Building a Passion-Driven Career.

The last interview in the Women in Tourism features a young lady eager to sharpen her skills, satisfy guests and push the boundaries of what she understands a woman can be in tourism.

About Jackline Keshine

My name is Jackline Nolari Keshine. A 23-year-old mother of one. I am a professional chef at Nkoteiya Eco Lodge, serving in my second year. I went to Olmotio Primary School and later to Joint St. Francis-Doldol for Secondary Education, which I completed in 2021. In 2020, I took a maternity break from educational studies. Thankfully, I went back to school in 2021. Thereafter, I gained skills in the culinary team at Olgaboli Bandas in Naibung’a Lower Conservancy.

  1. Can you share your journey of becoming a chef at Nkoteiya Eco Lodge? What inspired you to pursue this career path?

After my secondary education, I worked at Karisia Walking Safaris and developed an interest in the kitchen. I assisted the chef and was inspired to pursue a career in the culinary arts. Chefs play a very important role to all lodge guests’ experience. I have now understood that good food can change a guest’s experience altogether. Guests who travel to Nkoteiya, appreciate the efforts that the community and partners have put in to make their experience unforgettable.

With my determination, I began as a casual Naibung’a Lower Conservancy that hosts Olgaboli Bandas. I was then enlisted to Peaks Hotel by Northern Rangelands Trust Trading Limited and trained alongside 4 community youths. Armed with a lot of interest and passion, the 7 months training brought about significant changes in preparing me to be an excellent cook and have a wider perspective on life. In early 2023, Nkoteiya Eco-Lodge had an opportunity to hire a professional Chef, which is how I got myself there.

2. What are some favorite memories you have of preparing meals for guests?

I enjoy making pizza for guests since it is a favorite among them. I am happy when I can prepare meals that our guests love. Their compliments encourage me to do more and apply my bush cooking skills. When I first attempted making pizza, it became very sticky, this made me skeptical, but it turned out better than I anticipated. The guests were so shocked and intrigued about it that they wanted to know how I got the skill. This experience truly inspired and motivated me, and since that day, I have believed in myself that I can make anything and become the best.

3. How do you incorporate responsible tourism practices into your culinary creations at the eco-lodge?

Engaging with local communities and promoting culture preservation like beadwork and adorning traditional attire, is a priority for me. In my free time, I enjoy making bead bracelets and trying different patterns. At Nkoteiya Eco-lodge we promote environmentally friendly practices, such as using solar as our main source of energy. We also advise our guests to use water and electricity on a need basis to promote sustainable travel. They appreciate this approach and consistently adhere to it.

4. What role do you believe food plays in enhancing the overall guest experience at the eco-lodge?

Good food never goes unnoticed. You will always see/tell? when guests enjoy a meal. It significantly impacts overall guest satisfaction, and it is one aspect that hoteliers have full control over. Even when tourists fail to spot game during game drives, returning to a good meal makes their experience way better. Additionally, food contributes to the marketing and promotion of the destination experience. Nkoteiya Eco-lodge is in a remote location, this often prompts questions on how we manage to procure all the supplies to prepare finger-licking food. It is something that we truly pride ourselves on. Good food provides a unique and memorable experience for our guest. I recall a particular guest who loved my desert so much that they left a positive review.

5. What do you think chefs can contribute to an establishment’s, a lodge or restaurant, responsible practices?

I think waste management, is what most chefs need to work on. This involves implementing proper waste management practices, such as appropriately sorting and disposing waste. Chefs should also prioritize using natural herbs in the kitchen.

6. What are some of the challenges and opportunities you face as a female chef in the hospitality industry?

Some of the challenges I have faced include; health issues that come from standing for long periods like swollen legs. Balancing family and work has proven difficult, especially with my pastoralist community holding the belief that women are primarily home caregivers. Sometimes I find expressing myself from a woman’s perspective challenging.

Despite these obstacles, there is a wonderful opportunity for all women to excel in stereotypical or new roles and to better themselves.

Women in Tourism are Champions

EMBODYING WARMTH AND PERSPECTIVE FOR GROWTH

Jacqueline Kali, a seasoned professional with close to 30 years of experience in the tourism industry brings us to the third interview feature for the March Highlights: Women in Tourism. Following her graduation in a professional course- Front Office Operations from the Kenya Utalii College, she joined British Airways Kenya where she quickly distinguished herself as a passionate and hardworking individual, which led to her being headhunted to work at the British Airways office in Amsterdam. Upon returning to British Airways Kenya, Jacqueline steadily gained experience in Ticketing, Customer Service, Corporate and Trade Sales, Account Management, and Marketing departments. She holds a CIM professional certification from London, which demonstrates her expertise in Digital Marketing techniques, Branding and Planning, and Marketing strategies. She serves as the National Vice Secretary on the Board of Kenya Association of Women in Tourism, is a member of the Nairobi and Lower Eastern Counties, chairs the Events subcommittee within the MICE Committee, and serves on the Mentorship and Disciplinary committees. Additionally, she volunteers with Huduma Kenya, a community-based organization that fundraises and supports women and children from informal settlements battling cancer.

Read on to get Jacqueline’s insights.

  1. With your experience in the industry, what unique perspectives or experiences do you think women bring to the industry?

Women bring a multitude of unique perspectives and experiences to the tourism industry. Their empathetic nature enables them to connect deeply with travelers and local communities alike, fostering genuine relationships and understanding. Women often excel in communication and relationship-building, which are essential skills for creating memorable and authentic guest experiences. Additionally, women tend to prioritize collaboration and consensus-building, leading to more inclusive and sustainable tourism practices. Their diverse backgrounds and perspectives enrich the industry, ensuring that it remains vibrant, innovative, and responsive to the needs of all stakeholders.

Vik Malhotra, former Chair of McKinsey Americas, who counsels CEOs and Boards, once spoke about the difference between male and female CEOs, and he said “the women CEOs were particularly distinctive on the responsibility to mobilize their teams and solve for the team psychology—and this is off a very high bar. They overinvested in these areas, thinking about the composition of their teams, how to motivate them, and what the teams worked on.”

  1. What role do you see women playing in shaping the future of tourism, particularly in the context of sustainability and social responsibility?

Women have a pivotal role in shaping the future of tourism, especially concerning sustainability and social responsibility. Their innate ability to nurture and collaborate, fosters a holistic approach to tourism development. Women often lead initiatives that prioritize environmental conservation, community engagement, and ethical practices. Their inclusive leadership style ensures that the benefits of tourism are equitably distributed, contributing to the well-being of local communities. Through their advocacy and actions, women are instrumental in steering the industry towards a more sustainable and socially responsible future.

  1. What inspired you to pursue a career in tourism, and what do you find most rewarding about your work?

As a little girl, I admired airline hostesses…. especially their smiles and neat uniforms…they seemed happy all the time! This led me to insist on going to Kenya Utalii College instead of Kenyatta University, where I had been accepted, ending to a big fight with my Dad, especially because he found out I was just as stubborn as he was, Haha! The most rewarding part of my work was seeing the smiles on my clients’ faces, especially after a seamless travel experience and also after I offered solutions to their needs. I also found happiness in British Airways…. we are family. I use the present tense because we are still in touch.

 

  1. Can you share any notable examples of initiatives or programs aimed at promoting inclusivity and accessibility in the hospitality industry?

There are several notable initiatives and programs aimed at promoting inclusivity and accessibility in the hospitality industry. One example is the “Kenya Association of Women in Tourism”, which focuses on empowering women in the Tourism and Hospitality industry and bringing gender aspects to the attention of policy makers, especially issues of women’s work environment, employment, entrepreneurship and equity within the sector. We seek to mitigate inequality and harness women’s potential towards a more prosperous Tourism industry.

Another is the “Accessible Travel and Hospitality” program, which advocates for greater accessibility and inclusivity for travelers with disabilities. Additionally, many hotels and resorts have implemented initiatives such as gender-neutral bathrooms, accessible accommodations, and inclusive hiring practices to create more welcoming environments for all guests. These initiatives demonstrate the industry’s commitment to promoting diversity, equality, and accessibility for all.

  1. How can women drive innovation and positive change within the tourism sector?

Women can drive innovation and positive change within the tourism sector by leveraging their diverse perspectives and skill sets. Their capacity for empathy and understanding allows them to identify emerging trends and consumer demands, leading to the development of unique and authentic experiences. Women often excel in fostering collaboration and partnerships, which are essential for implementing innovative solutions to industry challenges. By championing inclusivity, diversity, and responsible practices, women inspire creativity and drive positive change that benefits both the industry and the communities it serves.

  1. As a woman leader in the tourism industry, what advice would you give to aspiring professionals looking to make a difference in this field?

My advice to aspiring professionals in the tourism industry is to be fearless in pursuing their passions and advocating for meaningful change. Embrace every opportunity to learn and grow, whether through formal education, networking, or hands-on experience, using innovation to solve problems or needs of the future traveler/tourist. Cultivate a strong support network of mentors and peers who share your values and aspirations. Remember that your unique perspective and contributions are invaluable assets in shaping the future of tourism. Stay committed to your principles of sustainability, inclusivity, and social responsibility, and never underestimate the impact that one person can make in creating a more ethical and equitable industry.

  1. Fill in this statement. Women in Tourism are _________.

Oh dear! I would be doing women a huge disservice if I filled that blank with one word! Women in Tourism are catalysts for change, driving sustainable practices and community development; they are pioneers, shaping the industry’s future with their creativity and determination; they are resilient leaders, breaking barriers and inspiring generations to come; they are ambassadors of culture, promoting diversity and inclusivity in every destination they touch; they are storytellers, narrating the narratives of places and people, fostering understanding and empathy; they are agents of transformation, leveraging their skills to create positive social impact wherever they go; they are trailblazers, forging new paths and challenging stereotypes in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Women in Tourism are the heartbeat of hospitality, infusing warmth, care, and authenticity into every guest experience.

 

Do you want to read more Women in Tourism interviews?

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Stay tuned for the next entry!

This week, the March highlights on Women in Tourism continue with an avid adventurer’s interview. In the month’s focus, we have interviews with a diverse group of women in the tourism industry that explore their journey and experiences. Adhiambo Agoro is an adventurer who loves to explore and teach people about the great outdoors through mountaineering, cycling, running, podcasting at The About Out Podcast and trail guiding at Avi Expeditions. She finds joy in life’s simplest pleasures by exploring various destinations, seeking meaning, and spreading positivity along the way.

Let’s dive into the interview:

  1. Can you share a bit about your personal journey and how you became involved in the travel and tourism industry?

My journey began in Supply Chain Management before taking a leap into travel. I recall booking my first hike on one weekend to Buxton Tunnel in Limuru. All I needed then was just to be outside in nature and experience a different place not very far away from home. I met a diverse community during that hike that opened my eyes to the beauty of nature less than 30 kms away from the city. This specific hike ended up being a pivotal moment for me. It sparked my passion for travel and ignited my desire to explore further. I went on many more trips after that and I eventually transitioned into guiding adventurers on the trail for other travel companies. This in turn inspired my passion for fostering community and exploration and I set out to create my own travel community called Avi Expeditions. It is a collective of like-minded enthusiasts united by a shared love for nature, adventure, conservation, and various outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, cycling, and running. Through Avi Expeditions, my mission is to foster a close-knit community where every individual can embark on unforgettable adventures and create lasting memories together.

  1. Do you have any memorable travel experiences of encounters that have impacted your perspective on tourism?

Yes, I do.

My journey has been filled with many transformative encounters. From a 5-day road trip to Northern Kenya, to standing on top of the second highest peak in Kenya many times, it is a beautiful shift and version of life to experience if you ask me; but perhaps the most impactful ones are the moments I spend guiding fellow adventurers to push their limits, and achieve their hiking goals while having fun. The greatest highlight is guiding hikes up Aberdare trails and to Mt Kenya summit. You realize that nature has so much to offer. These experiences have reaffirmed the power that tourism has to inspire personal growth and foster connections with nature and others.

3. What do you find most rewarding in your travel ventures?

The most rewarding aspect of my travel ventures is witnessing the sense of empowerment and fulfillment that participants and fellow adventurers experience when they push their limits, conquer challenges, and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature. It’s incredibly fulfilling to me to facilitate such moments of discovery and personal triumph.

4. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a woman in tourism?

As a woman in tourism, I’ve encountered challenges ranging from gender biases to safety concerns in remote environments. Additionally, breaking into male-dominated spaces within the industry and gaining recognition for my expertise has been an ongoing journey. However, these challenges have not only fueled my determination to carve out a space for myself but also create opportunities for other women within this ever-evolving industry.

5. What solutions can be explored to meet some of the challenges you have highlighted?

To tackle these challenges, we can focus on creating inclusive spaces in tourism, offering leadership training and support for women, establishing safety measures for female travelers, and advocating for gender equality initiatives throughout the industry.

6. What is something you wish women would realize more about travel?

I wish women would realize the transformative power of travel to challenge societal norms, break barriers, and empower them to embrace their full potential.

Travel offers endless opportunities for self-discovery, growth, and connection with both the world and oneself. There’s no perfect date and time or sufficient amount for your first trip outside. It can be a hike, bike ride, a simple run in another county, or a game drive. The answers, discoveries, and lessons may not be with you at the beginning but they eventually come. All you need to do is Just Start.

Women in Tourism are trailblazers, adventurers, and catalysts for positive change. They are continuously shaping the future of travel with their passion, resilience, and determination.

 

Stay tuned for the next interview!

HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY 2024

Throughout this month, we’ll be amplifying voices from diverse backgrounds, highlighting their experiences and insights. Embracing this year’s theme, ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’, we are committed to fostering women’s integration and empowerment within the realm of tourism through a series: ‘Women In Tourism’.

Join us as we celebrate and champion women’s role in shaping the future of our industry.

Empowering Women for Sustainable Tourism in Kenya

Tourism has a huge impact on the global economy, helping to create jobs and eliminate poverty. Despite being the industry’s largest workforce, women continue to face challenges and roadblocks to professional advancement and leadership roles. To address this issue, the Kenya Association of Women in Tourism (KAWT), in collaboration with Ecotourism Kenya (EK), held a training and mentorship boot camp on Saturday, February 24, 2024, at the International Hotel & Tourism Institute (IHTI)

The platform brought forth women within the tourism industry who offered their experiences, challenges, and ideas for achieving gender equity in the tourist business. The sessions were guided by professionals George Ireri, Sheila Kutto, and Susan Onyango, all from EK who organized engaging discussions that enabled the participants to talk openly about their experiences and concerns.

The boot camp emphasized the importance of empowering women as a crucial step towards achieving sustainable tourism. Women’s empowerment can result in increased participation in decision-making, better working conditions, and the creation of more equitable possibilities for career advancement. The discussions revolved around how women can collaborate, network, and push for equity and equality in the tourism industry.

Winnie Maru, CEO of Tembea Africa Tours & Travel and a KAWT member, underlined that women should seek equity and equality. This includes recognizing and tackling the unique barriers that women experience in advancing their careers and taking on leadership responsibilities. Rosebell Mugambi, KAWT’s Tourism Specialist and Mentorship and Training Treasurer, underlined the importance of women seeing each other as collaborators rather than competitors. Women should speak up about the women within their space, offer mutual support, and identify components and locations in which they can thrive.

Another revelation was the significance of women collaborating with men to achieve sustainable tourism. Jacqueline Kali, a Board Member at KAWT, underlined that there are a variety of ways in which women and men can work together including lobbying for policies that promote women’s empowerment.

The boot camp also emphasized the issues that women experience in the profession, such as sexual harassment, a lack of accommodations for female guides, and disparities in remuneration. The participants identified opportunities and solutions to these concerns, such as advocating for change through women’s involvement in policymaking.

Finally, mentorship, networking, reskilling, and upskilling were all emphasized as vital components of strengthening women in the tourism industry. Women should attend conferences where they may discuss aligned policies and how they can be implemented and strictly adhered to through collaboration with stakeholders, the government, and the broader tourism industry.

Women’s empowerment is crucial for attaining sustainable tourism, and we all have a role to play in supporting this cause. It’s time for the tourism industry to recognize and address the specific challenges that women face and work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive industry for all.

Women in Tourism are resilient. Despite the challenges they continue to face, they still strive to achieve equity and equality in the tourism industry.