Women in travel industry paid up to 15% less than men, experts say

Female employees make up to two-thirds of the sector while earning up to 15 per cent less than their male counterparts

Gender equality in the travel industry has worsened over the past two years, experts on the issue agreed during a panel discussion held at ITB Berlin on Thursday.

Influential women from a range fields presented their experience and possible improvements at the event that was held on International Women’s Day.

Experts on gender neutrality said the women in travel industry should be supported — Ondřej Koraba ITB
Experts on gender neutrality said the women in travel industry should be better supported — Ondřej Koraba

Sarah Matthews, chairperson of the Pacific Asia Travel Association and Director of TripAdvisor’s Destination Marketing Sales Team Asia-Pacific, started her speech with a comment on the fact that the Women’s Day still exists.

“I’m going to be a bit radical and say this to you. I appreciate the need for this day, I hate the fact that we need this day.

“I find it astounding that in 2018, we are still having to talk about this. But talk we must, and more importantly, fix.”  

In her presentation, she explained that the focus of the Pacific Asia Travel Association has always been on equality.

“What we focus on this year is really talking about gender equality. There are challenges for the people in the Asia Pacific region, differing per country because is such a diverse region.”

Matthews explained that despite the fact that the travel industry is made up mainly of women, leadership roles still mainly belong to men. In general women earn 10 to 15 per cent less that their male counterparts, she said.

“On the bright side, one in five tourism ministers in the tourism industry are women. Tourism also employs twice as many women as other sectors,” Matthews added.

Lina Annab, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Jordan, expressed the need for the support of women in the industry and presented projects completed by her department. For the most part, these were headed by female leaders.

“I find it astounding that in 2018, we are still having to talk about this," Mathews said — Ondřej Koraba ITB
“I find it astounding that in 2018, we are still having to talk about this,” Matthews said — Ondřej Koraba

“Let me tell you that in all of the innovative approaches and the various catalysts that we have been seeking in advancing tourism the ones that stand out the most are women,” she said.

“Let me give you some examples – recently we launched a meaningful travel campaign for  Jordan, where we presented twelve different projects that offer authentic experiences while having a significant impact on the local communities where they exist. Of the twelve experiences we have launched, seven were predominantly run by women.”

Italian freelance journalist and the Director of Gender Responsible Tourism, Paia Pedemonte, presented her actions to encourage and promote women in the travel industry.

Pedemonte’s website, that aims to strengthen the role of women in the travel industry as well as attempting to eliminate discrimination, specialises both in recommendations for female travellers, as well as helping female travel workers and entrepreneurs. Another section on her site gives advice to women who want to learn how to work in tourism.

Now, we want to have our network of female protagonists and we want them to be better known,” she said.

“For example one of our ideas is that we are planning to make an app just like a road atlas with women working in tourism.”

ITB Berlin launched the Gender Equality in Tourism panel, for the first time in its history, not only on International Women’s Day but also on the centenary of women gaining the vote in Germany.