In conversation with TRAVEL NEWSY, the team behind SHE IN TOURISM, talk about the importance of having a greater representation of Asian women in entrepreneurship and leadership positions in the tourism industry and how they plan to support them in this journey
Please tell us about who is who behind ‘She In Tourism’ and what special contributions do you individually bring to the organisation.
There are 4 co-founders in the initiative. We have diverse backgrounds and experiences but united by one passion – the empowerment of women in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Anna Alaman -Lecturer, educator, and founder and CEO of Open Eyes India.
Anna’s background is in marketing and business, leadership, and responsible tourism management at Leeds Becket and ICRT in the UK. Since 2011, she has held international conferences promoting responsible tourism in concepts such as counselling and empowering women through tourism, cooperative tourism, inclusive tourism and social entrepreneurship, in India and Europe.
Anna moved from Spain to India to create her dream of a social business in tourism. In 2019, her company has been rewarded by two of the most recognized world awards for responsible tourism for their “Women in Tourism” initiative: TO DO Awards at ITB Berlin and Best Experiential Operator at IRTA (Indian Responsible Tourism Awards) organized by Outlook India and WTM London. The same year, she won the award at the Institute of Travel & Tourism (ITT) in London as the best student in Responsible Tourism in the UK.
Dr. Barkathun nisha -Founder of Elevated Consultancy & Training, Co-Founder of World Women Tourism
Nisha is a spirited campaigner for women’s empowerment and gender equity. She strongly believes that women can be innovative game changers and they have immense capability to change the face of tourism for the better.
With more than 20 years of experience in the tourism, hospitality and events industry, Nisha is a thought leader and a highly passionate tourism professional. As an international tourism consultant, she has provided marketing and management consul to tourism stakeholders to develop and implement strategic plans.
Nisha is also an academic who lecturers in universities. Her research areas include women in tourism, sustainable tourism, tourism education and halal tourism. Nisha is a familiar face as a keynote speaker and panellist at various conferences and seminars internationally.
Zinal Doshi – Zinal is the Founder of the Company- The Flapper Life.
Her stint as a banker for 13 years paved way for her as an entrepreneur. She started The Flapper Life with a vision of broadening horizons for women who wanted to travel. Having sound leadership skills, entrepreneurship comes naturally to her. A people person, she connects well with people of all walks of life. Zinal has a terrific feel for travel sans profit or hardcore advertising. She believes in investing her time to impact and grow. It is her value system including her ethos and her passion, that today, she has achieved this feat single headedly. For Zinal, what matters is – What she gives back! She is passionate and strict about sustainable travel, mental health travel and me time travel which also reflects in her work and travel.
Rashmi Chadha-Founder & CEO, Wovoyage
Rashmi built the foundation of Wovoyage, a woman-centric travel start-up. Rashmi’s vision is to build an accessible & safe platform for women wanderlust across the world. With her entrepreneur prowess along with business acumen, she carved the niche for wovoyage in the travel and tour industry. This TEDx speaker has won many accolades lately for the leadership role across the industry including Women on mission award at Women on a Mission summit 2019, an initiative by YourStory, Indian Women Excellence Leadership Award 2019-WIEF award. From planning to strategizing the core business, Rashmi has incorporated a tech-enabled ecosystem at wovoyage to have tech-driven journey onboard.
With several trade organisations already supporting the tourism industry, what was the missing link that inspired you to form ‘She In Tourism’
In the Asian business environment, women have made significant inroads into the areas of entrepreneurship and leadership. Specifically, in the tourism industry in Asia, there’s been a surge of women taking professional and leadership roles to steer the development and growth of the industry. Yet, despite the advancement, we witness women still lagging behind men in income, career opportunities, and business ownership. UNWTO (2020) reported that although women represent more than half of the tourism workforce in the Asia-Pacific region, they are over-represented in lower-paid tourism positions and positions with poorer working conditions and that it was uncommon to find women in management. Further, gender equality issues have not been a priority topic for many tourism events, conferences or policies in Asia and the Pacific.
She In Tourism was founded on the premise that it is critical to have women as powerful agents of change at all levels in the tourism industry in Asia and to enhance the socio-economic trajectory of women. We hold a strong conviction and belief that diversity and greater representation of Asian women in entrepreneurship and leadership positions in the tourism industry have far-reaching benefits on societies, communities, and the quality of lives of women.
To impact women’s economic empowerment in Asia, initiatives need to be directed towards women’s access to capital, access to markets, skills and capacity building, leadership and agency and innovation. Through the collaboration of partnerships and ideas, She In Tourism platform paves the pathways for women in the tourism industry in Asia to flourish and realize their potentials.
Please share your vision and how do you plan to impact and improve the lives of women in the tourism industry.
We envision a tourism industry where women are empowered to become powerful agents of change at all levels, valued as equal partners and to participate in the industry and elevated with knowledge and skills to contribute to the wider community.
Our mission is to create a collaborative platform for women entrepreneurs, companies, academic institutions and influencers in the tourism industry and empower them through our initiatives and contributions, giving them the necessary tools to flourish their business and sharpen their leadership skills.
We want to:
• Build strong communities of women in Asia’s tourism industry
• Facilitate information exchange and tourism business opportunities among women In Asia
• Promote training and professional development for women
• Opening conversations on women in tourism and sustainability and sensitising tourism markets on gender-based issues
• Assisting businesses to reach women travel markets segments
Who can join you and how? Is there a membership fee?
Any women professional or entrepreneur in the tourism, hospitality and events industry in Asia. They include: Tourism professionals, Entrepreneurs, Academics and Researchers, Keynote Speakers, Women Influences and Professionals in women-based NGOs
Currently, there is no membership fee levied. However, we are intending to have a paid membership structure soon to enable our members to benefit from some valuable privileges.
Please share your experience so far since you first planned to launch She In Tourism?
So far, we have been very successful in sharing our purpose and vision with the larger community of women in the tourism and hospitality industry. We have hundreds of women who have joined as members, within a 6 months period with followers on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
We organised several events in the past 6 months period they include
1. Initiative to create publicity for the initiative and drive membership.
2. She Learns: Initiative to share expert insights to run tourism businesses strategically and to expand business potentials.
– A Masterclass on “Positive impacts of the pandemic” was conducted to identify the positive impacts and strategies to seize the opportunities in the crisis.
3. She Connects: An initiative for women to grow their networks and build their business and professional capabilities through collaborative partnerships.
– A course on “The Art of Storytelling in Tourism Marketing” was conducted to share how stories can be used as a powerful tool to inform, engage, and inspire travellers and how marketers can leverage brand storytelling in their promotional strategies.
Now that the Journey has started, what next, and where do you see ‘She In Tourism’ in the next 5 years?
We have big and exciting plans to inspire and engage the women in the tourism industry they include
1. Mentor and coach women in the industry to scale their business ideas to greater levels that will impact communities
2.An International Summit on International Women’s Day to convene tourism thought leaders and professionals to engage in new emerging perspectives on empowering women in the industry, explore opportunities and new frontiers.
3. Develop organic research on consumer and market trends in the tourism industry to assist organisations to make informed decisions, and translate these to best practices and successful actions.
4. Professional development training and workshops to transform the potentials of women professionals to be high performing individuals They will be provided with the tools, strategies and techniques that to stretch their minds, skills and competencies.
5. Influencer Programs: Through the strategic use of hand-selected influencers, we want to help tourism organisations to target their market segments, scale their marketing efforts and expand their international reach.