Celebrating International Women’s Day with a spirit of adventure, with travel initiatives and new tours

Celebrating International Women’s Day with a spirit of adventure, travel initiatives and tours

TORONTO — Just eight years ago, solo female travellers comprised only 4.6% of Canadians planning a winter vacation. Four years later, that stat had risen to 7.4%. And for the current winter season 2018-2019, 8.2% of respondents intending to travel are women travelling on their own. And that’s just winter vacations. Year-round, the number of women travelling solo is skyrocketing.

The stats come courtesy of the Conference Board of Canada and also Allianz Global Assistance Canada which is marking International Women’s Day 2019 – that’s today, March 8 – with a celebration of travel for women and some tips for women travelling alone.

“Research shows more and more Canadian women are travelling solo,” says Debbie Robinson, Director, Marketing and Customer Experience, Allianz Global Assistance Canada.  “In fact, our very own Winter Vacation Confidence survey shows that of the respondents, 23% are women excited to explore new places.  As with all travel, but perhaps more so when travelling solo, researching your destination and checking for travel advisories is an important part of being safe and enjoying the journey.  The Canadian government not only issues daily advisories, but it also has a valuable booklet called ‘Her Own Way – a woman’s safe travel guide’. We encourage solo travellers to read it online.”  The guide can be found at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/publications/her-own-way.

Several travel companies have launched new tours and initiatives in honour of International Women’s Day, here’s a roundup…

  • G Adventures is launching four new ‘G For Good’ projects, dedicated to supporting women and youth across Africa, joining the existing 70 G For Good projects supported by the operator and its non-profit partner, Planeterra. Some 20 initiatives are solely committed to empowering women, and 2,043 women having been employed or trained through G For Good projects around the world. In India, Women on Wheels, the country’s first fleet of female-only chauffeurs has trained and secured employment for over 650 women from resource-poor areas of urban India. And in Sri Lanka, the Sthree Craft Shop and Cafe has served 2,400 meals to travellers in its first year, offering sustainable employment to women and youth with disabilities.
  • Intrepid has introduced four Women’s Expeditions, women-only tours led by female guides providing insight into the lives of women in Kenya, India, Nepal and Turkey. These trips include experiences that would otherwise be off-limits on regular departures, such as swimming on a female-only beach in Antalya or celebrating the female-only Gangur Festival in Rajasthan. The new trips build on the success of Intrepid’s original Women’s Expeditions in the Middle East, launched on International Women’s Day 2018. The range has proven one of the most popular in Intrepid’s 30-year history, growing from just four departures to 36 in the space of a few months, says Intrepid’s global product manager Jenny Gray. In 2017 Intrepid set the goal of doubling its number of female tour leaders globally by 2020. Thanks to the work of Intrepid’s local teams in destinations including India, Morocco and Indonesia, the company has increased its number of female leaders by 70% and is on track to meet its target in 2020.
  • The Travel Corporation (TTC) is celebrating International Women’s Day on several fronts this year. To highlight the progression made throughout the years as it relates to gender equality, Insight and Luxury Gold put together an infographic, showcasing the state of women overall in the travel industry, while compared to the state of women at Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold. “We hope to share what we’ve learned over the years and inspire other organizations to take charge and play their role as we all work to achieve gender equality globally,” says the TTC team. Meanwhile the TreadRight Foundation, along with The Travel Corporation’s family of brands such as Insight Vacations, Trafalgar, Luxury Gold and Contiki, have made empowering women a central part of its ‘People’ pillar. The brands have integrated women’s cooperative projects from around the world in which they support into their itineraries, allowing clients not only to learn directly from the locals, oftentimes indigenous women, but to also offer them the opportunity to purchase items made by the same women as a way to support their businesses. Examples include Insight Vacations’ week-long Jordan Experience, with an opportunity to visit the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative.
  • Travel Professionals International (TPI) is saluting industry colleagues “who have worked tirelessly to transform the travel industry — from their dedication and creativity to their impeccable customer service.” This year it is more important than ever to recognize the efforts that women have put forward to become leaders in our previously male dominated industry, but despite our combined efforts there is still so much work to be done, says TPI CEO Zeina Gedeon. “This year’s theme, #BalanceforBetter, is a good reminder that many of my colleagues struggle in being recognized for the work and efforts they put forward in their professional lives and this needs to change. At TPI we salute the women in travel who have accomplished so much and have come so far. We’d also like to shine a spotlight on work that still needs to be done to advance women in the travel industry. Our valued TPI members are working together to make a difference and we encourage you to do the same. I recently read a quote from Sheryl Sandberg that resonated with me, In the future, there will be no female leaders – there will just be leaders.”
  • Flight Centre’s ‘Womenwise’ initiative, already in Australia, is now in the Americas too. Flight Centre is 75% women as a company, says spokesperson Allison Wallace. “The Americas has the best numbers when it comes to female representation at a leadership level but we can do more,” she says. Recently top female executives of FCTG Americas gathered at the USA Headquarters in Montvale, NJ to kick off the Americas launch of Womenwise, a new initiative guided by a vision for women (and men!) to be equally represented, valued and rewarded at FCTG.
  • Air Canada marked International Women’s Day by operating flight AC832 from Montreal to Brussels with all female pilots and flight attendants. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight, which arrived in Brussels this morning, was additionally supported by female ground crews providing customer boarding, aircraft servicing, loading, pushback and flight watching functions. Air Canada has 30,000 employees worldwide of which approximately 14,000 are women, with 30% of Air Canada’s senior management comprising women.
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