Empowered Women, Tourism Reawakened

Posted on April 1, 2022

Tourism has undeniably become one of the most effective tools in empowering women, enabling them to own and manage enterprises, generate employment for their communities, and most importantly, become ambassadors of history, culture, and the environment.

Just when efforts and initiatives from the government and the private sector are gaining momentum in providing opportunities for women, the whole world came to a sudden stop because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As various industries prepare for a better normal two years after, the tourism industry is also slowly and cautiously getting back on its feet.

Doing this requires the reawakening of tourism that will pursue and further strengthen women empowerment. The quest for women’s emancipation and equality has opened up previously untapped tourism markets. This has helped breathe new life into the tourism sector, leading to increased investment and exciting job opportunities.

An example is a group of women called “Samahan ng Mga Mangingisda at Bangkera ng Lawa ng Pandin” in San Pablo City, Laguna. From homemakers, they moved to becoming entrepreneurs who not only contribute to their family’s income, but also to enriching and preserving the environment, culture, and community. They now have a sense of belonging, accomplishment, and pride. It wasn’t easy and there were times when things seemed hopeless, but with resilience they managed to push through the barriers.

Women are considered as major players in tourism, especially that they contribute greatly to providing services like tour guiding and producing products like handicrafts, woven fabrics, food and more. Aside from the support from the government, like-minded institutions from the private sector also plays a crucial role in women empowerment for women in tourism.

CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), a group of institutions that envision a poverty-free country based in Laguna, combines tourism with financial inclusion. The women from Pandin first worked pulling the bamboo rafts across the lake while their husbands did other jobs outside the community. But through the financial assistance given to them, these women now have access to loans and savings that enable them to make and repair their own rafts, gain enough funds to start a food or transportation business, and provide for their family’s basic needs.

Hijos Tours, the tourism company of CARD MRI, supports this community of women by integrating the services they offer to their food tour named “Cocina de San Pablo.” On a raft, freshly caught grilled tilapia and pako salad can be enjoyed against the backdrop of the beautiful Pandin Lake. Aside from the women from Pandin, Hijos Tours also train women to become tour guides and suppliers for their various in-person and virtual tours in Baguio City, Samar-Leyte, Iloilo City, and Davao City.

As the tourism industry reawakens, may we take up where we left off and continue to put women at the center of tourism. From travel and hospitality to marketing and operations, women’s voices and perspectives are essential to creating a tourism industry that is fair, sustainable, and reflective of the world.