The Power of Women in Travel

By André Oliveira – Director of sales Ontravel Solutions S.A

The tourism industry is one of the most important sectors in Europe being it is the most visited continent in the world per arrivals. Some of the greatest countries in the world such as Italy, Portugal, Spain, France and Greece had an important driver in their economic progress due to tourism.  The tourist industry also is quite sensitive to external effects like the financial crisis in 2008 and the pandemic in 2020. This industry has a huge role to play in Europe to achieve sustainable goals but also transforming our society into a gender equality model and being the role model for the world.

The world is changing in a positive wave and tourism as an industry has a pivotal role to play in achieving the objectives of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, in particular the commitments to gender equality and the empowerment of women (sustainable development goal 5 in 2030 agenda from the ONU). Regarding statistics, as of 2021, there are 49,58% of women in the world and 50,42% men.  In the tourism industry it is impressive how the balance changes because 85% of all travel decisions: where to go, when to fly, where to stay, are made by women.  Needless to say that the tourism industry is a powerhouse for women as society changes because as a sector the majority of the workforce worldwide (54%) are women, meaning women are the drive for this unique industry (UNWTO/2021). The amazing feature of this one-of-a-kind industry not only promotes peace but positively promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment, and the gender wage gap is narrower in tourism than it is in the broader global economy.

Tourism has a pivotal role to play in achieving the commitments at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment.  This agenda developed by the United Nations was supported by the Global Report on Women in Tourism (1st and 2nd edition), where they joined forces between UN Women, German Development Agency, World Bank and Amadeus.  This is extremely important because these reports defined the six big areas where women in tourism have a huge impact in developing the industry:

entrepreneurship, education and training, leadership, policy and decision making, community and civil society.

Nevertheless it should be noted that with all the travel associations and organisations that support the tourism industry growth, it is still really difficult to identify tourism organisations that specifically focus on early-stage entrepreneurship for women as business owners ( there are a few good examples but not enough).   The tourism industry is really competitive in areas such as tours/experiences and the accommodation sector. A great amount of work has been done but still there is space to positively improve this area in society.

The power of connections (Human to Human) and technology can be the trigger to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment not only in tourism but across all sectors. The world since the pandemic developed faster in the digital platforms and helped to maximise the potential from small tourism business in established countries and emerging tourism areas, because it created the access to a global market of consumers that can be correlated to women’s entrepreneurship in this beautiful industry. We need to take into consideration that the tourism dimension is different between Asia, Africa, South America, North America and Europe so in some areas the access to Wi-Fi can positively help to create a digital business and be relatively important to create gender equality.

The uniqueness of the tourism industry is the ability to create layers of human interaction between genders and to change in a qualitative and quantitative manner the unbalanced arena of the world.  It can be the drive to build a better world and change the mentality over the years and across generations. Tourism is more than meets the eye.

NOTE: This article only expresses the opinion of its author, not representing the position of the entities with which it collaborates.