The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is holding a World Tourism Day Celebration in Bali on 27th September, 2022 with the title, ’Rethinking Tourism’. According to the UNWTO website ‘it aims to inspire the debate around rethinking tourism for development, including through education and jobs, and tourism’s impact on the planet and opportunities to grow more sustainably’, including a discussion on ‘The tourism we want’. ‘Rethinking tourism’ requires a concerted effort to put structural transformation of gender equality in tourism at the top of the agenda.
Women also participate in the tourism economy as vendors, artisans, and more, but the nature of this work is completely dependent on the volume of tourist footfall.
This article was first published by The NEWS MINUTE as part of a series of articles on the impacts of COVID-19 on the unorganised sector in tourism.
Street vendors, photographers, hawkers, trinket sellers, unregistered local guides and others in the sector have been left with no jobs, no health benefits, no social security cover amidst Covid-19 lockdown.
We are raising concerns on sexual harassment of women at the workplace in the tourism sector as well as the industry by advocating against the commodification /objectification of women in tourism and making the tourism processes and the industry accountable to such concerns.
The close linkage of tourism and souvenir products creates great potential of the tourism sector in marketing and publicity of handicrafts. However, it also raises pertinent questions about nature of promotion of handicrafts in tourism and its implications on artisans and the art itself. The artisan needs to be seen and valued as an artist by giving the craft products their rightful place in its cultural context and ensuring real cultural exchange through tourism.
One of the major trends in tourism is the continuous reiteration of tourism as a vehicle for women empowerment, mainly through employment generation. However, there is ignorance about the gender-blind framework embedded in the employment opportunities offered by tourism. In this context, the paper highlights an overwhelming influence of patriarchy on tourism. Further, the paper raises questions on if tourism offers a space for women to choose the employment opportunities or force them to opt as a survival strategy? Core to the issues is not only ensuring better working condition in the sector but the need to examine the claim made by the tourism industry as one of the major employer of women within the right-based framework.
The Kerala Tourism Policy 2011 (Draft) issued by the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala in November 2011 recognises the role of local self governing institutions in tourism development. The policy also visualises sustainable development through involving local panchayat and communities. Both these are welcome moves. What needs a perspective change is the excessive tourist focus without consideration of the impacts on local communities. The objectives of the policy seem to be primarily about the role and functions of the Department of Tourism and the formal sector of the tourism industry while the informal sector of the tourism industry that constitutes a significant part of the industry and economy has been ignored. EQUATIONS’ critique highlights the need for tourism impacts to be considered in policy formulation and implementation.