Covid-19 has hit us all. Global tourism has ground to a halt. Millions of people all over the world, who depend on tourism, are without work. People are suffering. Some industry experts believe that travel may not return to ‘normal’ for years to come.
Women make up more than 50% of the global tourism and hospitality workforce. They don’t often reap the benefits, but their choices are limited. It is not unusual for women employed by luxury, eco-friendly hotels to work for £1 a day without rights or contracts.
Equality in Tourism International is trying to make tourism fairer for women. We are a unique, innovative, rights-based, non-profit network campaigning to put gender on the agenda in global tourism. We want women all over the world to enjoy equal access to the tourism and the hospitality industries and its benefits. Our mission is to ensure that the tourism industry adopts an approach which empowers women and places them at centre stage. We know that responsible and sustainable tourism can create lasting change for women at grassroots level.
It is regrettable that once again on World Responsible Tourism Day the vital importance of gender equality in the achievement of global responsible tourism is not recognised.
For women, the COVID-19 pandemic impacts are not that different compared to Climate Change impacts.
- It has exposed and exacerbated gender inequalities and biases and deepened pre-existing inequalities in the tourism industry.
- Women have traditionally received lower incomes and held less secure jobs than men; they are also more likely to be employed in the informal sector or in service jobs – roles that offer less access to social protection, insurance, sick pay and paid parental leave and sectors heavily impacted by the pandemic.
- Women are responsible for a disproportionate amount of unpaid domestic and care work. The impact COVID-19 has had on women’s economic security has been severe and will have long-term effects, causing dips in women’s income and labour force participation while also contributing to a deeper contraction in global GDP.
- The typically feminised sectors – such as retail, hospitality and tourism – have seen more layoffs and job losses than other sectors due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures. A Rapid Gender Assessment by UN Women showed that over 12 % of women lost their jobs and 43 per cent faced reduced paid working hours.
- Women are also impacted because they tend to work in informal sectors or in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, either as own-account workers or as contributing family workers, where they are unlikely to receive sick pay or other social protections.