The Tourism Industry and Women



Keerthana Gedela is a second year student doing law in DSNLU. She loves all kinds of stuff ranging from music to basketball. She is a foodie and aims to set a mark for herself in this world.

The Tourism Industry and Women


It’s a hard fact to digest in the 21st century when we come to know that  women are still been hindered from going for tours abroad and the risk rate being high, most people discourage women from working in the tourism industry. Safety is one of the common criteria which every guardian, parent or relative uses to dissuade the women in their family. The writer in this article is going to specify some events and facts as to why women are discouraged from getting employed in tourism industries. Also highlighting some popular events that have filled the minds of the populace with fear and misconception.

Tourism contributes to about 7% of the jobs and 5% of the GDP for the whole world. Though the perks of the tourism industry are distributed equally in the developed world they are somewhat unequal in developing countries.  Gender inequality and women empowerment explain this concept much better than anything else. It is often seen that women are employed at lower levels with low paying jobs that are precarious in the tourism industry. Gender stereotyping and discrimination usually display women as confined to safe and domestic jobs like cooking, cleaning, and hospitality. The writer will discuss why women are the primary prey to discrimination, the extent to which tourism industry has helped women meet their needs and the extent to which the tourism industry has tried providing job satisfaction for women.

Women as primary prey to discrimination

Women are more likely to work in clerical services in tourism industries than compete with men at higher and more professional levels in tourism. Because of this, they are becoming victims of low paying jobs, unable to run homes efficiently. We see this in one of the report findings by UNWTO submitted and published in 2010. The social fear of giving women higher job positions has indirectly found them in a state of backwardness. The idea of a social fear preventing women from stepping out of their homes in today’s culture might seem absurd. But in countries that are backward and undeveloped, it presents a safer option. In a recent Bollywood movie-Queen, the protagonist- a young woman, crumbled under emotional pressure after learning that her former lover jilted her for groundless reasons. Her journey from Paris to Amsterdam and back to India served as a rather inspirational story to all young women in India and other countries and their families who, under several misconceptions, don’t like to go or let their daughters or women out of the door step on their own.  There are risks but we cannot progress if we don’t undertake such risks.

There are some statistics which show the extent of discrimination in hiring women as part of the workforce in the tourism industry:

  1. Compared to youth, women have a lower rate of employment opportunities. About 39% of workforce in tourism are occupied by the youth, giving little space for women ;
  2. Other countries like the Bahamas have only 40% of seats reserved for women, whereas the other 60% are given to men. This 40% of jobs are relative to hotel service sector in tourism, than outdoor jobs which pay more;
  3. Australia has a comparatively higher number i.e., 55.8% share for women. There are higher chances of women in Australia being promoted here than any other country;
  4. India shows a meagre yet significant 38% of hiring vacancy for women. Some jobs though the same for both women and men still pay women less.
  5. A lot of women working in family tourism businesses are unpaid
  6. A vast difference in pay is seen where women earn 15% less salary than men in the tourism industry.

Tourism industry and its struggle to meet the needs of women

Education is the fundamental weapon for women to use against discrimination visible in the tourism industry. The shortage of women in the tertiary level of teaching and graduate studies is due to the lack of a proper push to let them grab the brilliant opportunities which are usually availed by men. This lessens the chances for a good proportion of women around the world to hone their leadership skills which is probably why we find a very small number of CEOs who are women in tourism industries.

A friend recently told me about his elder sister’s experience during her visit to Italy. While travelling late one night she had to walk through one of the crowded routes to a bus stop. A group of drunkards started following her until she miraculously encountered a police officer. It was pure luck finding a police officer patrolling the narrow streets of Italy at such a point of time. The officer not only served as a means of protection from the drunkards but also waited with her until she got onto a bus. Such is the state of women travelling to unknown places.

Such stories shouldn’t deter women from taking up exciting and adventurous jobs like tourism. One motivating story is solo female biker named Esha Gupta, who travelled 32000 km across 16 states in India. Though she faced many challenges her will and determination to complete her aim brought her success. Her objective of solo travel was simple. She wanted to serve as an example, an inspiration for other women who wish to travel solo. She travelled all around the world to show that it’s safe for women to travel and the disproved the old conception that it’s unsafe for women to travel without anybody accompanying her.

Socio-economic pressures

Poverty may be one significant reason for families to withdraw their girls from pursuing further education due to which many are deprived of formal and informal opportunities in tourism industries. The tourism industry has many “own account workers” who are women. Dealing with such pressure exerted upon them is quite tough but one shouldn’t ever forget that women are born strong enough to cope up with pressures a man can’t face in his lifetime. The tourism industry should address gender equality in every area which can help the community as a whole.


Viewing the status quo of women in the tourism industry, it is important that women should be aware of both the positives and negatives of the profession by educating themselves about other people with experience. To truly bring about a change, challenges that the tourism industry might face should be predicted and solutions should be created in foresight.  This might not only help private sectors around the world but also public sectors, international organisations and civil societies.

For more inspiration look for case studies on:

  1. Mulala Cultural Tourism Enterprise, Arusha , Tanzania;
  2. Three Pioneering Nepali Sisters;
  3. ASOGAL, pearl of pacific, the story of 11 women in Galapagos Island;



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