Tourism officials from the APEC member economies are tapping advancements in gender equality and access to digital technology to boost women-led development of the sector.
Driven by the need to accommodate soaring visitor traffic in the Asia-Pacific, officials convened in Port Moresby assessed ways to enhance women’s entrepreneurship and employment prospects in travel and tourism in the changing environment.
It sets the stage for the APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting here on Friday to take steps forward in confronting gender challenges and maximizing the considerable potential for more inclusive industry growth in the region.
“We are working to establish tourism infrastructure in the APEC region that can accommodate 800 million tourist arrivals annually by 2025,” explained Alcinda Trawen, Lead Shepherd of the APEC Tourism Working Group.
“Opening up opportunities in the sector, whether in hospitality, as a tour operator or a craftsperson turned online entrepreneur, is vital to ensuring we can meet growing demand,” added Trawen, also an official with Papua New Guinea’s Tourism Promotion Authority.
The APEC region welcomes some 400 million tourist arrivals annually, doubling since 2000 on 4.7 per cent average year-on-year growth. What is more, the industry accounts for 3.9 per cent of GDP in APEC and employs 150 million people or 10 per cent of the region’s workforce.
But though tourism is one of the largest employers of women and accounts for twice as many women business owners than other sectors, gender gaps persist when it comes to labor participation, management roles and compensation.
Tourism officials in APEC are focused on promoting policies that foster gender smart work places. This includes childcare and checks on sexual harassment and violence to limit absenteeism, turnover and lost wages among women—and higher recruitment costs and talent shortages for employers.
Parallel attention is on the alignment of occupational skills standards, professional certifications and digital and financial literacy training to widen labor participation in tourism across APEC economies, in consultation with industry and community groups.
“The tourism sector is a catalyst for workforce inclusion given its dependence on micro and small businesses, which tend to offer more flexible entry and work arrangements,” noted Frederick Tamarua, Chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy.
“Equipping men and women with competencies and social protections necessary to thrive throughout travel and tourism supply chains is an APEC priority,” Tamarua concluded. “New social awareness and digital tools are paving the way for real industry growth breakthroughs.”
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