The nature of travel inherently celebrates diversity. It requires leaving the comforts of familiar surroundings in search of something new, be it new people, new cultures, or new experiences. So, how is this trait reflected in the way that the industry operates?
In terms of the bigger picture, the numbers are promising. Women working in travel outnumber men overall, but this balance shifts dramatically as you look up into the higher ranks. According to Lara Mandala, founder of Women in Travel and Tourism International, only 33% of leaders of travel organizations are women. And, in mainstream tourism, only 11% of boards and senior management have female members. Surprisingly, the adventure tourism space, traditionally perceived as male-dominated, beats the average at about 38% of companies employing female executives.
Looking at the numbers, there is still a long way to go for the travel industry to start seeing gender equality throughout its leaders. The benefits of engaging more female leaders are significant. Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. recently published a report on how companies with more female representation on executive committees outperform male-dominated companies. This finding makes sense once you understand how much influence women travelers have on the industry.
Female consumers comprise a large proportion of the travel market. They make over 70% of travel decisions and, in a recent study by Intrepid Traveler, also comprise 64% of total travelers between 25-39. And based on trends, these numbers are only growing as more women jet-set each year.
With the relatively recent publicity of female-focused travel accounts from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, which both have spiked huge increases in solo travel, the travel industry has seen growth in unprecedented ways, especially regarding the great outdoors. This year, the Adventure Travel Trade Association published its industry survey, finding that 53% of adventure travel consumers are female, compared to 51% just last year. They also spend over $50 billion annually on gear alone to fuel their adventure travels. So clearly, there is no lack of female representation in the market, which means the industry will continue transforming as their presence strengthens.
Female-only tours and expeditions have exploded, growing 230% over the past six years and forcing new methods and focus of travel to be created. Adventure travel specifically has seen growth through these expeditions as more women are seeking out experiences that bond—something that is easier done while trekking through mountains than sitting on a resort. This growth in consumers is reflected in on-the-ground employment, with an uptick in female guides and service providers, a positive trend that provides better opportunities for women who lack formal education.
Women are changing the way that people travel and impacting the destinations visited through these subtle acts of female empowerment. Here at Project Cordillera, we embrace the changes and welcome adventurers of all types with various expeditions to help you ease into either your first adventure or your fiftieth.