Celebrating International Women’s Day is about honoring the contributions of women throughout history, recognizing their everyday achievements and highlighting the struggles and inequalities that women face around the world.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias, an invitation to imagine a gender-equal world. But building it requires an authentic commitment to action.
According to the last Global Report on Women in Tourism (UNWTO, 2020), women make up the majority of the tourism workforce worldwide (54%). Still, there is a significant gender gap: women earn less, and only a minority occupy strategic or highly qualified positions.
The report also suggests that gender equality strategies for the tourism sector are vital for women’s empowerment and must be backed by institutional and budgetary support.
Although there is much to be done, it’s inspiring to see that women daily challenge stereotypes, cross boundaries, and lead progress.
We have spoken with talented women who play different roles in the Tourism Industry but have something in common: building an admirable path and a legacy for other women.
Natalia Bayona, Casey Hanisko, Raabia Hussain, and Caroline Ungersbock share their thoughts on “As a woman, what daily inspires you to build a successful path in the Tourism Industry?”. Testimonies that encourage and inspire to go towards a more equal environment in Tourism.
Director of Innovation, Education and Investments of the World Tourism Organization
“I get my daily inspiration from all young people that are transforming tourism with technology, social impact and sustainability. But specially, I get inspired from the 30% of the UNWTO top-rated startups which are led by women, demonstrating their empowerment through tangible solutions for global challenges.”
President of the Adventure Travel Trade Association
“When I became President of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, women in the community came up to me and told me how inspired they were by my leadership and how proud they were for a woman to be leading the organization. Before I accepted the promotion, I hadn’t considered how it might affect others, my thoughts were mainly, “Would I live up to my own expectations?” After understanding that the community, and the women in it especially, noticed my leadership, it became even more critical for me to lead in a way that was my own. These women inspire me daily -- they are entrepreneurs, activists, and drivers of good tourism. If my leadership - and my actions - supports them, then everyday humanity and our planet benefits.”
Traveller, Award-winning Filmmaker and Documentary Producer
"I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my dreams of becoming a successful filmmaker if I could not travel. I find travelling feeds my creativity, it allows me to think outside of the box and step out of my comfort zone, part of me does this to prove society wrong. Ever since I was a little girl, I was told not to go out on my own and to always be with someone, as my parents worried about me being female and Deaf, many people viewed me as being vulnerable. However, I was and still am determined to prove people’s perceptions of me and other females wrong, being a female Deaf filmmaker and travelling solo does this. When I tell people all of the places that I have travelled to, many of these people are in awe of all the destinations I have been to, many of my friends have told me how they would have loved to have visited all these places but couldn’t because they had no one to go with them and they can’t travel alone. (This is due to the stigma society has led women to believe.) I have the courage and the determination to break the stigma for women, I do this by travelling the world solo and finding filming locations unknown and known to the public, I do this by learning about the culture in which destination I am in and then the creative process begins. I do this as a woman my aim in life is to empower all women, especially Deaf women. I do this by showing the world my films and having young female talent observe my work and listen to my story. I believe that my fight for equality will bring change to society and the way society views women within tourism. My aim is to improve equal access and gender opportunities and create a more welcome approach for women thinking of becoming involved within the tourism and filmmaking world.”
Chair and co-founder of the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme and Director of ITFFA
“I have been involved in Tourism since 2006 when I developed a Guesthouse by accident. I saw how difficult it was to be compliant for a small business to enter into tourism and started making some progress. Tourism has consumed me since then. Ten years ago, the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme NPC (STPP) was registered. I have travelled to more than 120 towns to assist tourism businesses and municipalities with sustainable tourism awareness, development of tourism plans, responsible tourism implementation and community tourism development. After being asked to speak at an International Tourism Film Festival in Portugal in 2017 and being a Juror of some festivals on the CIFFT Circuit, we are particularly proud of our co-operation agreement with CIFFT to bring the International Tourism Film Festival Africa to South Africa. It is in it’s 4th edition and will be held in Cape Town. This event truly encompasses one of the most fundamental parts of sustainable tourism. Recently, the STPP has been appointed by the South African Department of Science and Innovation to develop the National Strategy for Astrotourism. We are quite far in the process. My personal crusade is to be instrumental in changing people’s lives for the better in rural areas. I packed up a life in Johannesburg and have moved 900kms to Victoria West, a small town in the Karoo in South Africa. This is where I am able to have some degree of influence of change to a poverty-stricken community. That is what inspires me daily to build a successful path in the Tourism Industry.”