WTTC launches remarkable initiative to support women in travel and tourism

Published on : Thursday, April 29, 2021

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the travel & tourism private sector, launched its Women’s Initiative, at the WTTC Global Summit 2021 in Cancun, with the help of 18 Grand Slam singles title winner, Martina Navratilova. Leading travel & tourism leaders from around the world pledged to work towards women’s equality and boost female representation in leadership roles in an announcement before WTTC.

WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara unveiled the public-private-academic partnership to promote diversity and drive inclusivity which will help lead the way to achieving equality for women throughout travel & tourism. It led to the signing of the WTTC Cancun Women’s Declaration to support women, which recognised their contribution around the world and the importance of an equal equitable environment to enable them to thrive as leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators. The drive committed signatories including Mexican Caribbean, Hilton, Carnival Corporation, Apple Leisure Group, Intrepid, Expedia, IHG, Barcelona Tourism and CLIA among others to provide equal opportunities for women by removing barriers, ensuring fair treatment, and encouraging greater financial, professional, and social independence.

In short term, for the private sector, the Women’s Initiative has two core elements- developing skills and creating formal sponsorship and mentorship programmes for young women in business. It will encourage women to bring in new ideas and skills to broaden the wealth of experience and expertise from women at all levels across the entire travel & tourism sector. Senior women leaders will also be empowered to become mentors and share their skills and experience with the next generation of female travel & tourism leaders to nurture and develop new talent.

Where possible, companies will also be asked to assign a senior executive or Board member to be a sponsor for gender diversity and inclusion, who is accountable for progress. The private sector pledged to increase female representation of leadership positions by 30-50% and aim toward increasing by a third, the representation of women to board levels and C-suites, by 2030. There will also be a commitment to identify opportunities to reduce any gender pay gaps and implement gender diverse slate requirement for all open roles and to each year share progress and publish an action plan to achieve their goals. 

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said in a statement that as the first female President and CEO of WTTC, it is her honour to champion this important initiative. She stated that the pledge made with the launch of the first Women’s Initiative in travel & tourism by a combination of the private, public and academic sectors to work towards women’s equality, marks a significant step forward. She mentioned that women across the globe have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic which has exacerbated the pay gap, the opportunity gap and the shocking lack of senior positions and leadership roles across the travel & tourism sector.

She shared that WTTC research shows women play a vital role and represented 54% of travel & tourism’s employment worldwide yet while more than half the sector is accounted for by women, all too few occupy any senior or strategic roles. She said that she is delighted to share a platform with one of the world’s greatest ever tennis players, Martina Navratilova, to help launch WTTC’s ground-breaking Women’s Initiative. Martina Navratilova added that women have always had to outperform men, and whilst things are changing for the better, it is still a fight and a constant battle.


She said that change happens much quicker when it comes from the top and companies would be more profitable if more women were in positions of power and boardrooms were less homogenous and reflected the diversity of their customers. She shared that she is delighted to support WTTC for launching its Women’s Initiative and as an advocate for women’s rights, she mentioned, that every act taken will help change the lives of women everywhere and make the world a fairer and better place.

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