Global changemakers of the travel industry unite at International Women In Travel & Tourism Forum

Published on : Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The travel industry chiefs and next-generation female professionals from 18 countries headed to Iceland and pledged to accelerate gender diversity, gender balance and inclusion within the travel industry at the first International Women In Travel & Tourism Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland, from 24th – 25th January.


Delegates at this pioneering event came from a wide range of public and private sector travel travel organisations as well as women’s empowerment brands and academic institutions. Representatives from airlines such as Icelandair and easyJet, and senior leaders from PEAK DMC and TUI attended alongside male and female travel entrepreneurs from Ecuador to Lebanon. Despite the apparent organisational, cultural and regional differences, all attendees shared a passion for learning about, challenging and furthering their understanding of diversity and inclusion issues across their businesses and countries of origin.


Across the two days of speaker and panel sessions, inspirational women in the industry shared their personal experiences, industry observances and career advice. For example, keynote speaker Eliza Reid, Iceland’s First Lady, shared how greater gender parity had benefitted the whole of Iceland. The country, which has government legislation to drive greater gender balance, is both economically prosperous and high up on the index of happiest nations.


Jo Phillips, Chief People Officer, Carnival UK, stressed in her Forum opening remarks tha inclusion and equality is now a key business imperative – and no longer a ‘should do’, so needs to be integrated into how we all do business every day.


Zina Bencheikh from PEAK DMC also highlighted during a panel discussion focused on international perspectives on gender and the cultural equation that it was “important to have strong women in tourism leadership positions to act as role models and inspire the next generation.” This set the scene for the remainder of the event, with panellists suggesting ways women can tackle difficult conversations with their peers, and next-generation leaders sharing their challenges and aspirations with senior delegates during the Forum’s reverse mentoring session.


PEAK DMC also provided delegates with the chance to explore Iceland during complimentary sightseeing day tours which included visits to women-owned businesses. Furthermore, Forum attendees had access to a delegate app that will continue to be a tool for sharing event take-aways, best practice and real-life experiences in the months following the event, vital to ensuring the targets and progressions delegates pledged are taken forward, and before the 2021 International Women in Travel Forum.


Alessandra Alonso, founder of Women in Travel adds that this first International Women in Travel Forum was developed by Women in Travel CIC in partnership with Promote Iceland, Carnival U.K. and PEAK DMC and I really couldn’t have asked for better partners for this event. The passion, knowledge and inspiration these partners brought to this event cannot be underestimated and we all fully intend to continue to collaborate on and take forward key events ‘take-aways’, such as an International Women in Travel Mentoring Programme, and our next event in 2021.


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