Pro­tect­ing the Fe­male Trav­eller

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Dr Peter Tar­low. About the au­thor: Dr. Peter E. Tar­low is the au­thor of "Tourism Tid­bits," a reg­u­lar news­let­ter from the USA. To sub­scribe send an email to ptar­low@touris­man­d­more.com

Since the in­cep­tion of mod­ern tourism women have played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the de­vel­op­ment of the world’s largest com­pos­ite in­dus­try. The tourism in­dus­try is proud of the fact that as one of the world's new­est in­dus­tries, women have played a pro­found role in tourism's suc­cess. One only needs to at­tend a travel in­dus­try con­fer­ence to note that women not only form a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of those in at­ten­dance, but are also of­ten in the ma­jor­ity. Women hold top CEO po­si­tions through­out the in­dus­try, to the point that no one in the travel in­dus­try gives a sec­ond thought to a per­son's gen­der. In the world of travel agen­cies, the great ma­jor­ity are women, and women are of­ten not merely travel agents but also the agen­cies' own­ers.

That is not to say that women have not been ex­ploited. Women in most of the de­vel­op­ing world of­ten do not have the same gen­der-bias free op­por­tu­ni­ties as they do in the more de­vel­oped na­tions. Gen­der equal­ity, how­ever is not equally dis­trib­uted. Thus, while in some coun­tries women have not moved be­yond me­nial tasks in other na­tions such as Gu­atemala, Belize, and Tan­za­nia women have made sig­nif­i­cant progress and are on par with their sis­ters in the more de­vel­oped world. In many na­tions around the world women hold cab­i­net level po­si­tions in tourism and head their na­tion's tourism in­dus­try. Women not only play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the travel in­dus­try but as more and more women have en­tered into the work-force, women form an im­por­tant seg­ment of the trav­el­ling pub­lic. The term ‘sin­gle woman trav­eller' does not re­fer to a woman's mar­i­tal sta­tus but rather to the fact that she is trav­el­ling alone, be that trip for rea­sons of plea­sure or busi­ness. Be­cause women are now such an im­por­tant part of the travel in­dus­try, they de­mand and re­ceive spe­cific travel ameni­ties. Suc­cess­ful travel and tourism busi­nesses, take into ac­count spe­cific fe­male se­cu­rity needs. Here are some ideas to con­sider for im­prov­ing the se­cu­rity of your tourism en­tity or com­mu­nity for the ‘sin­gle' fe­male trav­eller.

- Fair game? The world is not al­ways fair to women. Although bla­tantly sex­ist and un­fair in many parts of the world, a woman trav­el­ling by her­self is con­sid­ered to be ‘fair game.' The first rule of thumb then is to know the cul­ture to which you are trav­el­ling. If the cul­ture tol­er­ates ‘sex­ual ha­rass­ment' then do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to avoid sin­gle travel. Even in highly sen­si­tised coun­tries women should use ex­tra pre­cau­tions.

- Know your se­cu­rity strengths and weak­nesses. Never be­gin to think of any form of se­cu­rity without first do­ing a clear anal­y­sis. Go through your lo­cale and de­velop lists of what might be a spe­cial dan­ger to fe­male guests. While many women are good at spot­ting dan­ger, it is not their re­spon­si­bil­ity to know each and ev­ery dan­ger spot; in­stead it is the host com­mu­nity or busi­ness that needs to pay ex­tra at­ten­tion to fe­male se­cu­rity needs.

- Ed­u­cate your staff and then ed­u­cate some more! Your se­cu­rity is only as good as the peo­ple who work not only in se­cu­rity but on the front lines. Take the time to speak with all front line per­son­nel about women's se­cu­rity is­sues. Make sure they are sen­si­tive to the spe­cial needs of women trav­el­ling alone and know how to give good and cor­rect ad­vice.

- Use so­cial net­works. Seek out net­works that serve the trav­el­ling woman. Many of these net­works can pro­vide up to the minute ad­vice. A quick search of the web pro­vides a wealth of in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing women's travel net­works.

When ed­u­cat­ing your staff and/or guests about women's travel safety, con­sider some of the fol­low­ing points:

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