Protecting the Female Traveller
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: