Blog by EqualityInTourism Director, Stroma Cole

“What impact does tourism have on a destination? And how can this be identified and measured? That is the question that has been at the heart of tourism studies for years and is now being asked by operators. TUI – in collaboration with the Travel Foundation and PwC – have developed a Total Impact Measurement and Management (TIMM) system and are trying to work out the “net positive” impact of their operations in 8 hotels in Cyprus. Clearly it is critical for an operator as big as TUI to know what areas are bringing the greatest benefits and which areas are having adverse impacts so that the later can be mitigated and the former built upon. TIMM involves putting a monetary value on all impacts from fiscal, economic, environmental and social, so that they are easier to recognise and analyse.

We applaud the efforts of the TIMM project to begin to map and measure the social impact of tourism. However, at Equality in Tourism we believe that gender equality and women’s empowerment should be at the centre of the sustainable tourism agenda. Based on our participation in a meeting on the TIMM we suggest that the project could be enriched by taking into account gender issues. For example, how does tourism impact differently on women and men, and how can this be measured? How can issues such as childcare provision, working conditions and split shifts be accounted for in this methodology? What about the impact of tourism on gender (in)equality and women’s (dis)empowerment? How might issues such as unpaid care work and emotional labour be accounted for?

While recognising the TIMM project as an important first step, we suggest that the project would be strengthened by a focus on how tourism impacts differentially on women and men, and the inclusion of qualitative research methods. Equality in Tourism would welcome the opportunity to engage more substantively with the issues raised by this project. “