Equality in Tourism Director, Dr. Stroma Cole, was a keynote speaker at the International Conference “Women in Tourism: Lessons Learned or Lessons Forgotten?” The conference was held in Split, Croatia, from April 19–21 and was an insightful event that brought together experts and scholars from all over the world to explore the importance of gender equality in the tourism industry and the current barriers facing its advancement. 

The keynotes delivered by industry experts such as Marina Novelli and Irena Ateljevic were particularly thought-provoking. Our own Dr. Stroma Cole shared her wealth of knowledge in her presentation that focused on the importance of tackling systemic inequalities to promote gender equality, moving towards gender transformative policies, and placing care at the centre of new policies and actions.

During the two-day conference, we were constantly inspired by the wealth of knowledge and expertise within the academic community that surrounded us. The discussions focused on studying women and gender in tourism, particularly the systemic and structural issues that affect equal opportunities for women in the industry. We hope that these discussions will inspire a renewed effort towards gender equality.

The conference featured many inspiring and complementary presentations of research covering a range of themes. These included the prevalence of gender-based violence and its impact on workers and travellers, women’s leadership and entrepreneurial styles and the role of women in tourism for regeneration, as showcased by a brilliant presentation on the work of women to regenerate a remote village in Croatia with Strudlefest. As well as this, there was also interesting new methodological work discussed, such as the use of embodied labour methodologies to create knowledge with female housekeepers in Sweden.

Throughout the conference, many papers referenced Stroma’s Three As of Empowerment, highlighting that even the most empowered women still face challenges to be heard equally. The academic presentations were complemented by a great turnout of industry professionals, who added richness and first-hand experiences to the discussions. It was a great coming together of resources and people, and we left feeling inspired and energised for the work ahead.

As sponsors of the conference, all of us at Equality in Tourism were thrilled by the conference’s success and potential outcomes. The insights gained at the conference can be used globally to push gender equality in tourism forward. It is crucial for decision-makers and leaders within the tourism and hospitality industries to recognise that gender equality is central to promoting a better experience for guests, a better workplace for employees, and more resilient communities to live in. We hope the networks built and knowledge shared during these two days will help move the industry towards a more just and sustainable future.