Women’s participation and Tourism industry: An overview


Dinesh Kumar Jayswal1*, Dr. Mona Jaiswal1

1Guest Lecturer, Department of Travel & Tourism, Govt. Women’s Polytechnic College, Jabalpur (M.P.) -482001




In India, Women are termed as “Aadhi awadi” that means the half population of India but by the data of census the current Sex Ratio of India in 2015 is 943 Females/1000 Males. At the present scenario apart from gender discriminations, women have touched the new heights of success in every sector by their capabilities so Govt. of India has made many efforts of women employment for improve their financial and social status by safe working in every sector as government and private.

Since the tourism industry contributes average of the country’s GDP was 5.8 % and 8.3 % of total employment (ILO 2009). India is expected to be the second fastest growing (8.8%) nation in the world, over the period 2005-2015, tourism industry is one of the major employer of women, offers various job opportunities for independent income generating activities and seems to be a particularly important sector for women (46 % of the workforce are women) as their percentages of employment in most countries are higher than in the workforce in general (34 - 40 % are women, ILO data).


One of the service sectors is ‘Tourism’, the fast upcoming Service Industry on the economic scenario of the world and women are feeling as the “face” and “Brand image” of the industry.  Here by this paper an attempt has been made to discuss the recent trends in tourism sector and to highlight the opportunity to work for women in this sector with special reference to India.


KEY WORDS: Aadhi awadi, Sex ratio, Travel and tourism industry, GDP, Brand image




Today, travel and tourism is the largest service industry in India with a contribution of 6.23% to national GDP and providing 8.78% of the total employment in the year 2011. On an average 53 more than 5 million foreign tourist arrivals and 562 million domestic tourists visits are witnessed by India annually. According to the Travel and Tourism Competitive Index (TTCI) ranking, 2011, India is ranked 68th  among the world’s 139 most attractive destinations and scores very high on natural resources (ranked 8th) and cultural resources (24th); with 30 world heritage sites and strong creative industries in the country. India’s air transport network is ranked 39th, the ground transport infrastructure however remains underdeveloped (ranked 43rd). India is ranked first with regard to tourism air attendance. The promotional campaigns and marketing strategies to attract tourists remain average (ranked 53rd). The World Economic Forum study states that India also benefits from excellent price competitiveness, ranked 6th overall, with low ticket-taxes and airport charges along with low prices in the economy as a whole. So in this scenario Indian tourism industry has become a profitable sector for women’s employment.


Travel and tourism seems to be a particularly important sector for women (46 % of the workforce are women) as their percentages of employment in most countries are higher than in the workforce in general (34 - 40 % are women, ILO data). The numbers of women and their percentage of their workforce in tourism vary greatly between countries form 2% to up to over 80%. Though there were few obvious regional trends it would appear that in those countries where tourism is a more developed industry, women generally account for around 50% of the workforce (1).



The main objectives of the study are as follows:

1.    To study about the women participation in the tourism industry.

2.    To examine the factors encouraging for growth of women in the tourism industry.

3.    To analyse the opportunity and limitations for working of women in tourism in India.


This study is basedon personal interviews and secondary sources of data by government reports, internet sources, review of some selected research articles etc.



Tourism Sector in India

Tourism and the Hospitality industry is known to be one of the largest segments of the services sector in India. According to the Ministry of External affairs, Govt. of India, not only is tourism known to be the third largest foreign exchange earner, it is also a key growth driver. Its contribution towards gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow at 7.8% per annum during the period 2013-2023. According to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) tourism earnings in India rose by 5.1% in 2013 and a climb to 8.2% is anticipated by the end of 2014(2).



Women’s Employment status in Tourism sector

According to the WTTC 2013 Economic Impact Report, Travel and Tourism directly supported over 101 million jobs, representing 3.4% of total employment. Including jobs indirectly supported by the industry, Travel and Tourism supports 1 out of 11 jobs in the world, in the industry forecast by 2023.


Travel and Tourism provides unique work opportunities for females. In 2010 the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and UN Women published a Global Report on Women in Tourism. This developed a series of indicators to monitor the role of women in tourism in developing regions. Closer to that of men than in other sectors and that Travel and Tourism provides opportunities for women as employers and for self-employed work (3).


In India, for the development of women participation in industry the Government has given much effort for women employment to improve their social and economic status and overcoming in sex discriminations since earlier times. Former Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had said “You can tell the condition of the nation by looking at the status of women.”This statement alone signifies the importance of women’s role in the cultural, social and economic development of any Nation.


Since the travel and tourism industry is the fastest growing industry in India for foreign exchange earnings and generating millions of jobs every year. In this context this industry is one of the major employer of women, offers various job opportunities for independent income generating activities.


For encouraging the women’s participation in tourism activity, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) which has taken the theme “Tourism opens doors for women” for its celebration of the World Tourism Day on 27th September 2007, recognized that the women, with their presence in this sector, have contributed to the cause and betterment of tourism in their own unique way.


One traditionally feels the presence of a woman in Tourism sector – as Air Hostess in Flights. In early Seventies, when the Tourism Industry was in a budding Stage, it was considered that only a fewer areas are suitable for women in this Industry. But to-day, she is everywhere  from Ministers for Tourism in Several States, Beurocrats in Ministries of Tourism in the Governments, Chairpersons and Managing Directors, managing big Hotels, marketing Aviation business, managing Travel and Visa Services, planning executing Holiday packages etc. It is amazing to note that several Indian women are heading key positions in various Tourism sectors in other countries also (4)


Why tourism sector benefitsfor women:

The literature on tourism and women highlights some of the benefits of tourism for women are:

•Tourism has a wide employment multiplier-effect, low barriers to entry, and is more likely to employ women and minority groups than other industries.

• Tourism home-grown entrepreneurship opportunities in handicrafts, food products, tour guiding, and many other areas.

• Tourism offers part-time and shift work that can be helpful to women with household responsibilities.

• Tourism development can help improve infrastructure for resident communities. Improving roads, water supply, health facilities, electricity, and communications can make a major difference to the lives of the poor, particularly women. Tourism, when carefully managed, is sustainable and can support conservation measures, raise incomes, and provide employment without denuding the country of its resource base(5).


Skills responsible for growth of women employee in tourism

In India, women representing as a brand image of service sector due to their pleasing nature of working. The marketing of tourism, aviation and hospitality services, women are the ‘face and brand’ of the sector, being the most widely-used objects in tourism promotion after natural beauty and cultural heritage. Women have been depicted as pleasure providers their images often exoticised, patronising and misleading.

The certain Skills which are responsible for the growth of women in tourism industry are:

• Social, sensitive and beautiful personality.

• Dressing sense and attractiveness.

•Adjustable and co-operative in nature

•Responsive and hardworking.

•Customer handing and caring.

•Strong communication skills etc.



Limitations for women employees in tourism industry

Apart from the betterment of tourism industry for improving women’s status it has some harnesses for working of women in the sector. As tourism industry is a service industry so everyone feels like women is the showcase of the industry. We can assume the women’s image in the tourism industrials with an interesting example about women  given by Jane Henrici gives in Peru – “Before the tourists came, when a woman wore flowers in her hair in public, it meant she was available to enter into a dating relationship. Once the tourists arrived they liked to take pictures of the photogenic women wearing flowers. Soon the pressure built for all women in the market to wear flowers – detaching it from its cultural meaning and becoming a pure aesthetic signifier in a touristic frame.”


The major limitations of the tourism industry for working of women are as follows:

(a)   Sexual harassment and sex tourism: In 1995 the UNWTO adopted a Declaration on the Prevention of Organized Sex Tourism, which defines sex tourism as “trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination.” In many tourism destination areas the spread of prostitution has caused an increase of severe diseases, in particular for women. Prostitution also often implies abuse and violence against women and severe consequences for social integration (ILO 2011) (6).


(b)   Unawareness of women about tourism education and training: One of the most factors of less women participation in the tourism industry is unawareness of tourism education and training. The Govt. of India has made many efforts through government agencies, NGOs and tourism institutions for creating the awareness of employment in tourism. For example “Hunar se rozgar”, “Earning while learning” etc.


(c)    Lack of resources for tourism educational: Although the Indian government has invest much more amount for tourism promotion and  infrastructure development but the sufficient researches has not been done for tourism promotion and development in the industry so there is lack of resources for tourism education also.


(d)   Bad representation of Women’s image: Women are expected to dress in an "attractive" manner, to look beautiful (i.e. slim, young, and pretty) and to "play along" with sexual harassment by customers. Stereotypical and sexist images of women are often part of tourism promotion in brochures and advertisements. Friendly, smiling and pliant women fitting certain standards of attractiveness, attired in traditional costumes, waiting to submissively serve the customer's every wish is the typical portrayal of women in tourism material.


(e)    Masculine dominancy in the tourism organizations: With women traditionally being largely absent from senior management positions, organizational culture can be perceived by some as being masculine. Just under a quarter of the Women 1st online survey respondents said that a dominant male culture and attitude is a hindrance to moving up the career ladder.There are also those who believe that some women can adopt perceived masculine traits to progress, so having more women at senior levels is not necessary the sole solution(7).


UN WTO Efforts for empower women through tourism

(a)Women’s Empowerment Principles: In March 2010, the UN Global Compact/UNIFEM was launched a principle “Women’s Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business”. The aim of the Principles is to offer guidance to businesses on how to empower women in the workplace, market and community.


Theseprinciples are:

1.    Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality

2.    Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and non discrimation.

3.    Ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all women and men workers.

4.    Promote education, training, and professional development for women.

5.    Implement enterprise development, supply chain, and marketing practices that   empower women.

6.    Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy.

7.    Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality (UNWTO 2010).


(b) Action Plan to Empower Women through Tourism: The UNWTO/UN Women collaboration follows an Action Plan with a number of specific activities:

1.    Set up a multi-stakeholder taskforce.

2.    Initiate a triennial joint report on the participation and status of women in tourism industry.

3.    Establish a portal to serve as a global network for knowledge sharing.

4.    Build international awareness about opportunities for women in tourism.

5.    Call upon UNWTO members to take vigorous steps to support gender mainstreaming in national development processes, so as to achieve women’s equality in the tourism sector.


A number of these activities are currently underway. The first Global Report on Women in Tourism was launched in March 2011, and a second report is expected to be commissioned in 2013. The Tourism and Gender Portal is in its preparation phase. Future planned activities from the Action Plan include the development of a gender mainstreaming programme for the tourism public and private sector and the development of the Women in Tourism Empowerment Programme(8).By the adopting of these efforts at all level of a public and private organizations of tourism sector can empower the women by employment and participation in tourism industry.


Ministry of Tourism Efforts for empower women through tourism in India

In India, Tourism is a service industry with a strong femalepresence. That is all the more reason why gendersensitization and ensuring equal rights to thewomen and men are important concerns of theMinistry. The Ministry of Tourism is committed tothe Articles 15, 16 and 39 of the Constitution of Indiathat prohibit discrimination of any form againstwomen and to provide for equal opportunity andequal pay for equal work, irrespective of sex.


Women Officers in the Ministry are posted at theHeadquarters, in Regional Offices and also in theOverseas Offices. The women employees of thisMinistry play a pivotal role in the organization ofconferences, seminars, exhibitions and road shows ofnational and international importance.The Ministry has a Grievances Cell for women toaddress problems and grievances faced by them(9).Ministry of Tourism along with the stakeholders has adopted the Code of Conduct “Safe andHonourable Tourism” was formally signed by key stakeholders associations and over 100 industry leaders on 27th September 2010(10).



The review of literature in this chapter has widened the horizon of understanding of the themes related to the study of women’s participation in travel and tourism sector. Tourism provides significant opportunities for women’s advancement through formal, informal, and supply-chain employment(UNWTO 2010). Women in tourism industry needs to be tackled not only the name of empowerment but also by building social protection mechanism like insurance, safety of women at workplace, gender justice and except this all the drawback issues discussed in the paper. Tourism industry has also demonstrated its potential for creating jobs and encouraging income- generating activities to benefit local communities in destination areas. Women have entered into the tourism industry at different levels. Even the Govt. of India is also encouraging the involvement of women in more numbers to attract women tourists from foreign countries as well as from other parts of the country. The Govt. of India has been taking many measures to provide a safe and comfortable touring to national and international tourists.



1.       Sandhya Rani G. (2013): Recent Trends in Tourism Industry and Women, Volume: 3, Issue: 10, Oct 2013, ISSN - 2249-555X.

2.       http://www.academia.edu/9038009/Tourism_as_a_tool_for_Gender_Equality_and_Women_empowerment_in_India

3.       WTTC: Gender equality and youth employment: Travel and Tourism as a key employer of women and young people.

4.       Krishna Kumari J. (2014):  Woman Empowerment through Entrepreneurship in Service Sector with special Reference to SHGs in Tourism, Volume-3, Issue-9, Sept-2014, ISSN No 2277 – 8160.

5.       World Tourism Organization (2011): Global Report on Women in Tourism (2010), ISBN: 978-92-844-1373-7 (UNWTO), ISBN: 978-1-936291-36-6 (UN Women), Madrid Spain.

6.       ILO (2011) : Toolkit on Poverty Reduction through Tourism, Geneva, pg. 21

7.       The case for change (2010): Women working in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism, Executive Summary, November 2010.

8.       http://ethics.unwto.org/content/gender-and-tourism.

9.       Annual Report: Ministry of tourism, GOI, 2011-12 pg. 85

10.     Report of the working group on tourism for xii five year plan, pg. 28


Received on 04.08.2015

Modified on 15.09.2015

Accepted on 23.09.2015

© A&V Publication all right reserved

Research J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 6(4):October- December, 2015, 269-273

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2015.00035.2