As we round off our week-long exploration of women’s experiences of gender bias in tourism, Equality in Tourism asked women to look ahead to the future of travel, beyond the immediate impact of the global pandemic. We questioned whether the pandemic could serve as a catalyst for positive change in the industry, giving the issue of gender equality the ‘jump-start’ it needs to make profound differences to the lives of women. The answers given provide powerful insights as to how the challenge the pandemic poses to tourism can be harnessed to challenge gender inequality itself, to make the industry more equitable in the future.

Do you think the pandemic has created an opportunity of change for women in tourism? If so, please provide some examples.

“I do foresee consumers being more selective in their tourism choices so perhaps this will lead to a rise in supporting female-founded companies”

CAITLIN MURRAY’s Thoughts on the Future of the tourism industry

IVA SILLA – Owner and author of Secret Zagreb Tours, Croatia @Kazivacica

Yes, I think it has created small but significant opportunities. I would call it an opportunity for women to make a change, not really a change for women. If it’s true that women are more likely to come up with meaningful small-scale projects, and if the prediction about popularization of slow meaningful travel will come true, many women, even in regions that are not yet valorized,  will be able to make a living of their little projects of heritage-based tourism. I really feel like the rare visitors who have come to Zagreb in 2020 wanted to hear more inspiring, spirit-lifting stories than ever. My most popular tour last year was dedicated to – women! (Badass Women of Zagreb walking tour). I will take it as a sign that things are truly changing. Quick thrills and entertainment in tourism are going to have to step aside and make way for deep connections with destinations. That’s where we, the women, step in.  

AISHA NABWANIKA – Tour operator at Baksimba Tours, Uganda @BaksimbaTour

Other than teaching the women in tourism that conservation is key and we need to have more sustainable tours/safaris, more inclusion of the local communities that these tourist destinations are at, the pandemic taught nothing more.

ILIADA STAVRINIDI – Manager at Kouros Village, a hotel located on Antiparos island, Greece @KourosVillageAntiparos

The pandemic has created opportunity of change in general for the tourism industry. Greece is a country where many families have relied their income on tourism and the pandemic shook this industry to its core. From my experience, I had to look into new travel markets, both regarding countries but also type of tourists. I also had to get more creative on how to promote the business or increase revenue from side activities, such retreats, bike rentals and hotel merchandise. Also, lately in Greece there has been a lot of focus put on developing digital skills, as many services had not been digitalized yet and were forced to because of Covid, so I think it is a good opportunity for women to develop these skills which can be applied in many aspects of the tourism sector. 

CAITLIN MURRAY – Owner of Purposeful Nomad, USA @purposefulnomad 

The pandemic has certainly presented an opportunity for change within the tourism industry, but I think for everyone! I do foresee consumers being more selective in their tourism choices so perhaps this will lead to a rise in supporting female-founded companies.  

TRANG THI THU MAI Co-founder and Community Development Project Manager at YESD (Youth Employment and Society Development) Vietnam @yesdsocialenterprise

This pandemic has caused a bad influence on the tourism sector. If saying that the pandemic has created an opportunity of change for women in tourism, it would be not true in Vietnam. Many  women must work from home with lower salary or some of them are jobless. Despite those difficulties, we still can see a good change for women, they have more time for family and even find an ideal sideline job. 

CARMEN N. PORTELA – Co-founder, Local Guest. Puerto Rico @LocalGuestGlobal

I believe that the pandemic has given the tourism industry a big opportunity for change to a more responsible and sustainable industry. Not only for women but also for minorities and BIPOC communities. 

Thank you so much for joining us this week as we asked #5Questions4Change for International Women’s Day. We hope you have been inspired by the amazing women we interviewed and feel motivated to continue challenging inequality in the Tourism Sector.