The heads of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) reflected on International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 on Wednesday, March 8.
IWD falls in March, which is designated Women’s History Month, and aims to help champion women’s rights and equality across the world. This year, the United Nations observed IWD under the theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, which celebrates the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education.
Voicing support for the UN’s theme this year, CHTA president Nicola Madden-Greig said education, innovation and technological change were integral for gender equality and the empowerment of women working in tourism in the digital age.
- Madden-Greig is one of four women who have headed CHTA during its 60-year history.
- She noted that the digital gender gap, which isolated women – and particularly rural women – during the COVID-19 pandemic, had less of an effect on women in tourism. However, when it comes to remuneration, gaps remain to be addressed.
- According to a 2019 UN World Tourism Organization (WTO) study, women in tourism earn 14.7 percent less than men.
- Madden-Greig pledged CHTA will continue to focus on increased education and training for “women in our industry, who make up the majority of the tourism workforce worldwide – approximately 54 percent compared to 39 percent in the broader economy.”
- CHTA’s Technology Task Force focuses on educating members on the latest tools for improving revenues and driving efficiencies with a specific emphasis on micro-, small-, and medium-sized tourism entities and independent tourism organizations, which continue to attract many women.
- “Additionally, as a woman leader in tourism, part of my mandate is to provide an example and way forward for future female leaders. It is time for more women to realize their full potential as leaders, entrepreneurs and workers within the industry with the skills and abilities to rise to the very top in all sub-sectors.”
CTO chairman Kenneth Bryan, who is also the Minister of Tourism and Transport of the Cayman Islands, said the focus of IWD this year reminded him of how much women have contributed to the success of Caribbean tourism.
- “We want to strengthen our efforts to give women the technical education needed to enable them to explore, learn, and rally for their rights, which will enhance the ability of the CTO to coalesce its best and brightest people for the betterment of our tourism product, and for the people of the Caribbean.”
- Bryan wants to ensure young women are fairly represented among new recruits into the sector.
- Women need to be elevated from being among the lowest paid and lowest status jobs in tourism to being recognized for the significant amount of unpaid work they often perform in family tourism businesses.
- There’s no need to reinvent the wheel because thanks to the UNWTO there are published guidelines on how the public and private sectors of the Caribbean and other countries can provide specific tools to support tourism institutions and businesses to integrate gender considerations into their efforts.
- IWD is a timely reminder of the need of Caribbean women for employment with equitable remuneration, entrepreneurship, leadership, community and education “to ensure that tourism in our region can act as a vehicle for the empowerment of women whilst highlighting and dealing with the remaining challenges for gender equality in tourism.”