In 2017, I became the first female President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council in our rich 30-year history. In my tenure, we have added female representation to our Membership and elevated many knowledgeable and impressive women through our events and platforms.
Now, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements of women across the Travel & Tourism sector who make important contributions every day to enhancing the tourist experience, providing key services, managing destinations, innovating solutions, and pioneering what the future of travel looks like. We are the powerhouses of Travel & Tourism. I believe that we are a truly welcoming and inclusive sector.
A sector that supported 319 million jobs worldwide in 2018, and is proud to be comprised of 50% women workers – a more gender-balanced workforce than many other sectors. We offer livelihoods, prosperity, and a way out of poverty for women globally. As a sector, we also offer fantastic career trajectories, flexible working arrangements, and lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities. Let’s think about Panama, for a moment, where in many sectors 20% of business owners are women. When it comes to Travel & Tourism, this number rises to a massive 70% – something that we should be immensely proud of.
Then, in the UK, the proportion of women in the top quartile pay band is 39.2% – in Travel & Tourism it’s 42.0%. This is not just a matter of economics. Socially, there are many countries excelling in inclusion. Botswana, for example, recognised the potential of the female workforce and harnessed it by offering vocational training specifically for women in order to improve their access to quality jobs. The government is thus proactively lifting women out of situations of economic dependency and guiding them into management paths. Similar programmes exist in Jordan and Tunisia.
We also recognise the power of gender quotas in mandating that women fill senior management positions – such quotas have been adopted in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Israel and Norway. There is an excellent array of work ongoing, then, to advance women within our sector – and today we pause to celebrate those initiatives, while also recognising the work that needs to continue. There is a huge potential in harnessing the female workforce – our inclusion benefits innovation, the work environment, sustainability efforts, leadership quality and levels of accountability.
It also stimulates corporate performance; companies in the top quartile for female representation on executive committees see a 47% higher return on equity than those with no women on their boards. Globally, an 11% increase in GDP is possible if we embrace the female workforce, according to PwC. Indisputably, female inclusion at the highest echelons of business and governance makes rational economic sense. Of course, employment is not the only way that we engage women in tourism.
Estimates say that around 70-80% of all travel consumer choices are made by women, so it is our duty to ensure that this powerful demographic is suitably catered for with relevant, high-quality product offerings and, crucially, a safe travel environment where all women can explore freely. So today I make a call to action to all of the fantastic Tourism Ministers working across the globe – many of whom are strong, bold women themselves– to support women in every way possible.
With each policy that you enact and each campaign you launch, think from the very beginning how it will affect women and what you can do to ensure that it caters to our needs so that we can continue to contribute to this wonderful sector.
Congratulations to all women around the world for their amazing contributions to society and the world!
The Writer, Gloria Guevara Manzo is the current CEO and President of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)