Ensuring Wellbeing and Inclusion In Tourism

With the right insights on destination wellbeing, destinations can use their funding and marketing activities to address weakness at a product level.

If we're going to tackle the existential challenges we face today, it means we need to change how we measure. If we look at tourism as an engine for change and development, we can see that tourism is one of the largest employers in the world and is crucial to lifting people out of poverty but also bringing peace and prosperity through intercultural dialogue.

Why should we measure Destination Wellbeing?


If we're going to tackle the existential challenges we face today, it means we need to change how we measure. If we look at tourism as an engine for change and development, we can see that tourism is one of the largest employers in the world and is crucial to lifting people out of poverty but also bringing peace and prosperity through intercultural dialogue.


It's also a double-edged sword. Overcrowding has become an ever growing problem, of course also contributes to climate change and we are becoming ever more aware of the issues of equity, where in places like South East Asia, the limited earnings that tourism can promise means it is fragile and not always delivering on the most important aims of bringing opportunity and prosperity.


This requires that as an industry we change the mix of priorities. We can see that over time communities have become more disenfranchised. If we want to advocate the merits over its pitfalls, we need to be able to demonstrate how tourism contributes to wellbeing.


Establishing a Framework


GSTC is one example, having put wellbeing at the heart of their framework, whilst the UNWTO & G20 Tourism Working Group Allulah Framework have put this at the heart of their priorities.


This is where Paul shares more on the background behind Planet Happiness - an approach built on a framework recognised by leading industry bodies. He talks about the importance of engaging with key industry bodies:

  1. Government
  2. Private Sector
  3. Local Community


Measuring & Taking Action


Paul speaks about the Wellbeing Pragmatic Shift and how this can be measured by deploying a destination scorecard throughout the industry. If we do that effectively, we can look at how to support individuals, communities and destinations to strengthen their wellbeing. He speaks about the example of the Everest region, where wellbeing ranks highly everywhere, except the economy.

This intelligence allows us to focus our priorities on how to address the weaknesses impacting wellbeing, which in this case points to economic wellbeing and opportunity.


By looking at data, we can see where tourism is driving happiness and wellbeing but also where tourism underperforms or fails to deliver an impact which can support destination wellbeing. Ultimately the solution to these challenges comes down to how we put actions in place, how we ask the right questions and how we explore possible solutions together with the community.


As tourism continues to develop, we can evolve the conversation and work to ensure tourism addresses these critical wellbeing weaknesses. There are clear tourism purposes in such an initiative, where as an industry we can directly intervene and make a positive impact to address weaknesses, but there are also non-tourism purposes where intervention is needed outside of tourism.


Paul talks about the need for a multi-stakeholder approach which involves different stakeholders, establishing a focal point and ensuring there is agreement and commitment across the board. Ensuring that the community is receptive to the survey and actively responding to it is key to working towards a representative sample that provides a true picture of destination wellbeing.


Having this insight then also allows us allows us to drive tourism to work on key sustainability objectives, such as working towards the SDGs.


Concluding Thoughts


With the right insights on destination wellbeing, measured systematically to monitor change over time, destinations can use their funding, programmes, brand and marketing activities to directly address weakness at a product level.


As we focus increasingly on what opportunities exist in regenerative tourism, we can see that this approach also helps destination planners work with the destinations, where scorecards across different category areas can be used to bring about partnerships to work collaboratively as a community to address needs and actively seek to reverse negative trends and see results over time.


Women Empowerment


Turning to Women in Travel CIC, Alessandra explains that as a social enterprise, they're a fully-fledged commercial company which reinvests all of its profits back into the cause that they're trying to impact. They don't have shareholders, but they do have stakeholders, for whom they work actively to report to and support day to day.


Their mission is to create enterprise and employment opportunities for women and therefore economic empowerment. Their vision is for a world where women sit at the heart of tourism and drive the sustainability of the sector.

Alessandra prompts the question of why women? She points to the issue of gender inequality when you think about parity equality and the underlying lack of diversity which mainly reflects inequality and what's happening in travel and tourism reflects what's happening in the broader world.


She explains that in the travel industry globally, 40% yet less than 10% are directors on the board, or 5% of women as pilots or even half that again if we talk about women of colour. There are also other issues such as the gender pay gap, which is widely documented.


With most of the travel and tourism sector on lower paid jobs, it also became apparent during the pandemic that a lot of women were the first to lose their jobs in the current crisis. Now today, we have a distinct lack of staff in the sector and this is where the opportunity exists to address these issues as we rebuild tourism.


On the one hand, women don't have the same level of decision-making power, yet as consumers they have incredible power, highlighting the importance of women being represented and empowered at every level.


Women in Travel CIC's community are diverse, resilient and keen - eager to work, learn and grow together. It represents a community which has a mission to serve this undervalue set of women in the industry, who are keen and eager to grow and build in the community but lack the confidence to do so.


Addressing the issue of opportunity issue requires that we look at the talent in its broadest potential and look at this through the lens of potential, not track-record or work history where discrimination is likely to unfairly harm this community.


What are the keys to addressing these issues?

  1. Diversity in recruitment - an approach which considers bias, opportunity and potential and isn't skewed towards those with an inherent advantage.
  2. Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity as a driver for a more thriving diverse set of perspectives which can enrich the destination.
  3. Training and mentoring solutions both for women, but also for leaders to understand these issues better and support growth and individual needs.
  4. Partnership and community engagement as a route to addressing these issues, consulting and considering the views of the wider community who may be better placed to provide a more first-hand perspective of the needs of all communities.


Alessandra talks about the TourGuiding Academy launched in partnership with Intrepid Travel, where they trained three of the Women in Travel CIC community as tour guides and helped them develop their confidence and knowledge with the support that was offered to them.


They were able to build on their unique experiences, where as an example a member of the Women in Travel community on the programme who is of Ethiopian descent was able to find her confidence, develop skills and gain the skills.

Her cultural heritage and background were a powerful strength in the unique guided tours of Shepherds Bush's Ethiopian community helped her to realise new opportunities to diversify her income through micro-entrepreneurship and enter into the tourism industry.

Key Takeaways

  • Destinations can use their funding, programmes, brand and marketing activities to directly address weaknesses at a product level.

  • Regenerative tourism helps destination planners work with the destinations, where scorecards across different category areas can be used to bring about partnerships to work collaboratively as a community to address needs.

  • During the pandemic, a lot of women were the first to lose their jobs in the current crisis. Now today, we have a distinct lack of staff in the sector and this is where the opportunity exists to address these issues as we rebuild tourism.
Published on:
December 2022
About the contributor

Paul Rogers

Planet Happiness

Alessandra Alonso

Women in Travel cic