Partner Blog: What can women do in the face of the COVID tourism crisis?

Partner Blog: What can women do in the face of the COVID tourism crisis?

We’re sharing a recent blog from our friends at Gender Responsible Tourism (GRT).

Iaia Pedemonte, Founder of the Gender Responsible Tourism Network (GRT) and author of a Guide for Free Women Travellers, spoke to four experts on ways of coping with the crisis. The latest GRT newsletter details some of the strategies they put forward and outlines additional tips and advice gleaned from webinars, articles and other sources consulted.

  • Update your skills and re-balance gender roles at home: Paola Profeta, Associate Professor of Public Economics at the Milan Bocconi University, says that owners of hotels or homestays need to get on top of the latest technology to enable them to keep their businesses alive through online communications. But spending more time at home risks women being dragged into traditional domestic roles. Gender roles at home need to be re-balanced to ensure enough time is left to focus on work that can benefit their (tourism) businesses. Examples include acquiring new technical, communications and marketing skills, which can enhance the resilience of their own businesses once things pick up again.
  • Stay in touch with your customer base: Michela Fenilli, Digital Manager of Ago & Media highlights the importance of staying in touch with your client base remotely during the lockdown. Contact can take many forms – live podcasts, interviews, news items, sharing recipes, gardening tips, photos, personal anecdotes. In this way, you can retain customer loyalty.
  • Use the time creatively to develop new ideas and strategies: Stroma Cole, Senior Lecturer in International Tourism Development at the University of the West of England and co-Director of Equality in Tourism argues that, rather than waste our time and energy on grieving over the downturn in tourism caused by COVID-19, we should use this time to transform and improve it: “We cannot control when tourists will return, but we can use our energy to make preparations to develop personally and professionally and work out what can be changed to improve tourism for the future and help ensure it is more gender equal”.
  • Collaboration and step-by-step forward planning: Alessandra Alonso, coach and founder of Women in Travel, CIC, has spent a lot of time talking to women whose jobs are under threat and/or have seen their income drop dramatically and tourism entrepreneurs whose businesses face imminent collapse. She argues that collaboration is key for addressing for addressing these challenges. This can take many forms, such as webinars, online conversations and peer-to-peer group chats or one-to-one relationships. In addition, it is vital to keep looking forward positively, setting manageable objectives, scheduling on a weekly or monthly basis, and identifying achievable goals and targets.

The newsletter also explores some ways in which new tourism trends can be adapted and turned to the advantage of women, thereby offsetting some of the negative impacts, disproportionately experienced by women. In the future, there will likely be more interest in eco-friendly, domestic travel. This can open new opportunities. For example: women restaurant owners can market the concept of ‘Home delivery ready to cook’, women’s farmers’ associations linked to food supply chains can increase their sales by highlighting their ‘from farm to table’ capacity and new models of tourism aimed at supporting women in local communities can be developed from virtual wine- and food-tours and drone-made videos, leading to predominantly ‘hyper-local’ forms of tourism in the mid- to long-term future.

The GRT newsletter includes an extensive list of resources with a range of tools and ideas to trigger ideas and provide food for thought.

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