Pushing for actionable steps towards greater diversity, gender quality, and inclusion across the industry – the first virtual International Women in Travel and Tourism Forum put next steps over grand predictions.
From the 10th to 15th May, over 350 leaders from the travel industry and other young professionals from across the globe banded together during the five-day event organized by the Women in Travel CIC (Community Interest Company). The agenda for the first-ever virtual IWTTF was to stimulate discussions around the issues most concerning modern industries today in order to prioritize and create actionable steps as the global travel industry rebounds in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Starting off in the heart of the action, Keynote Speaker Laura Storm set the tone for the days to come. When speaking about sustainable tourism, she advised a future-forward approach saying new solutions were necessary for modern problems and called for regenerative leadership in the industry. In light of the global scenario, innovative approaches were deemed to be necessary.
Day two began on a personal note for those present, deep-diving into the stories of women adventure travelers who were tour guides with Urban Adventures. This came as a result of the collaboration between Intrepid Travel and Women in Travel CIC. It reminded attendees of the fact that stories were the most important aspects of travel and a reminder that the same should apply to the industry as well.
On day three, the focus was Technology with sessions helmed by industry professionals from tourism, hospitality and travel technology backgrounds. The need for female travel tech professionals was established and a representative of APTCO even shared how companies were actively trying to attract female talent and offer a more inclusive product.
Fay four’s focus was Diversity, with a spotlight on various marginalized voices from across the industry. Tangible action was high on everyone’s mind just as the agenda for the IWTTF declared. The hiring and retaining of diverse employees was a key highlight of the Diversifying Travel Panel, along with ideas to open the table to diverse voices in key decision-making. Suggestions were also made to enable focus groups to allow a safe space for hard discussions.
The biggest takeaway from Day five was the launch of the Male Allyship Network and its first roundtable. The agenda was set for a cross-industry program for the mentoring and sponsorship of women, especially those from underrepresented groups. In what can be seen as a significant push for diversity and inclusivity, the Male Allyship Network will actively be dedicated to “lifting up” women within the travel industry through allyship.
At the close of the event, Alessandra Alonso, Founder of Women in Travel CIC, summed up the actionable steps drawn up over the conference, “The three tangible actions that Women in Travel will take forward in 2021 are [sic]: more storytelling initiatives to amplify lesser-heard voices; the launch of a new DEI Leaders in Travel and Tourism Network; and the formation of another industry-first, the Male Allyship Network.“ The IWTTF 2021 highlighted, addressed, and took tangible steps to embrace change in a global industry.