Highlight International WTIDtalk

19 Maret 2021



March is the month for women!


Celebrating women's month as well as International Women's Day which was celebrated on March 8, 2021, Women in Tourism Indonesia held another WTIDtalk. This time, WTID in collaboration with Roote Trails gave a special surprise on a special month by bringing WTIDtalk to an international level - as well as being the first time to hold International WTIDtalk. In line with the IWD 2021 theme, 'Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World', this International WTIDtalk carries the title "Building Resilience During COVID-19: Stories Of Hope and Inspiration of Women in Across The World'', which invited four inspiring women from around the world who have dedicated themselves in the tourism industry to share their stories during the pandemic. 

This title is appointed to discuss the phenomenon of research which shows that the resilience of women in the midst of a pandemic is very high so that women have become one of the most important actors in a country that has succeeded in stemming the wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and overcoming the socio-economic impacts that arise. This International WTIDtalk is held through Zoom and Youtube Live, and moderated by Risty Nurraisa, Master of Management and Sustainable Tourism at the University of Glasgow has successfully attracted enthusiasm of the participants as much as 250 people from all over the world. The talk show which started at 16.00 WIB was opened with an opening speech from Dr. Stroma Cole, an academic and researcher with an interest in the tourism sector, gender, and the environment. She is also the founder of Equality in Tourism, a non-profit organization focused on gender equality in tourist destinations around the world. This year, she received British Academy Knowledge for her dedication in conducting studies on gender and environment.



Dr. Stroma started her speech by correlating the values possessed by WTID with the theme of this talk show; engage, empower, educate, and equality. According to her, the pandemic Covid-19 is an opportunity to conduct various research studies on tourism as the sector has a complexity that is mutually continuous between the environment, education, human resources, etc., so that the sustainability of the tourism industry must be considered to remain developing this sector in the midst of a pandemic.

The talk show continued to the core session; stories from women in the tourism industry all over the world to survive in the midst of the pandemic. The first speaker was a representative from Indonesia, Mrs. Alfonsa Horeng, a woman from Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, who has learned weaving since she was 12 years old. She has established "Lepo Lorun", a weaving house that empowers women in Flores and applies the principles of Ecotourism and Community-based Tourism. Alfonsa opened her presentation by presenting welcoming music and dance, then showing the process of making Ikat Flores weaving.



Lepo Lorun itself has three main missions to preserve Flores tie weaving; preserving local traditions, growing the local economy, and promoting it to the global market. She said that the pandemic had an impact on weaving activities in Lepo Lorun. Before the pandemic, Lepo Lorun opened facilities for tourists to visit and learn about Ikat Flores weaving. Currently, Lepo Lorun is optimizing technology for online marketing media as an adaptation effort to the pandemic.

Furthermore, the story of women's resilience in tourism comes from Ghana, namely Doris Bill,  Sales & Marketing Manager at Eurotour Ghana Limited, who started her career in 2009 as a tourism consultant after completing her studies. She has an interest in developing sustainable tourism businesses and community-based tourism research. Doris said that the impact of this pandemic was that at least 42,000 workers in Ghana had to lose their jobs in the first two months, as well as a reduction in wages. Tourist destinations were forced to close because of the absence of income as a result of prohibiting people from visiting tourist attractions as a preventative effort from Covid-19 transmission. 



The data also shows that 90% of traders in Ghana are women who must also be affected by this pandemic, especially because of the lockdown policy that hinders economic activities carried out by women. This creates a new problem for women because the financial burden that must be borne during the pandemic is greater for children and families. This impact was felt directly at Doris's place of work, where all tour trips and flight tickets booked by tourists from all over the world had to be postponed or even canceled. The efforts made by Doris to survive in a pandemic condition is to continue to adapt by thinking creatively and innovatively.

After telling the story from Ghana, followed by the story of Nino Chkhaberidze, a young woman from Georgia who has a high interest and enthusiasm in the tourism industry. Nino, who is currently continuing her education at the Masters in Tourism, Society and Environment Research at Wageningen University is also the Co-Founder of Digital Travel Media, namely Sight Georgia, which promotes the beauty of Georgia and provides information for tourists about how to interact with local communities as an important aspect of travel.



Like other countries, Georgia has also been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The government system in Georgia, according to her, is not strong enough to handle this pandemic, and only focuses on the student learning system or teaching and learning activities that are required at home. This situation also affects women the most. Pandemic increases the number of violence in the domestic sphere. In addition, women must think of more ways to do work in the house while taking care of their children, educating them while studying at home, cooking, and cleaning the house. 

Women also experience a decrease in mental health as a result of the violence they experience and increasing domestic burdens. This is exacerbated for women tourism workers who have to lose their jobs because many of the tourism industry has gone out of business. Nino and her friends at Sight Georgia do various ways and thoughts to continue running their tourism business. In this case, Sight Georgia tries to convince people to enjoy tours that are owned by their own country, because they often see people who still want to travel to other countries.

The last story of woman resilience in this talk show came from Devika de Alwis-Saelen, an inspiring woman from Sri Lanka who has worked in the hospitality industry for approximately 40 years, and started her career in the food and beverages division, and is currently the Head of Operational at Serendib Leisure Management, and General Manager at Avani Bentota Resort in Sri Lanka.



Tourism for Sri Lanka is the third highest producer of foreign income with its various natural landscapes. Even so, Sri Lanka has to repeatedly repair the industry due to natural disasters such as the tsunami, civil conflicts that have lasted for 30 years, until the most recent and currently still being experienced is the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused a loss of income of more than USD 300 billion. 20-30% of employees in Sri Lanka's tourism industry are deprived of their source of income and women are the worst affected.

After Sri Lanka finished implementing its lockdown policy, hotels began to operate again for local tourists, which of course was accompanied by guidelines containing health protocols to ensure tourists continued their efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The most important thing in the hospitality or tourism industry in this pandemic situation is to ensure that hotels have standards of cleanliness and comfort for guests, such as providing food that does not require direct physical contact, and forming a responsive team if a guest has symptoms or complaints about the health protocols.

Therefore, the tourism industry must make more efforts to survive this pandemic. Paying more attention to health protocols is one of the most important ways. In addition, collaborating with local communities is also important, because local people are inseparable from the existing culture and as an effort to provide space for local communities, promote their traditional culture, and improve the economy together. Promotion through virtual platforms indispensable to inform people in various parts of the world about what a country has, including tourist attractions and what the area has. It serves to encourage tourists to visit and do things related to local tourist areas. Tourism businesses must go hand in hand, support each other, and not move alone. Global communication is also needed to exchange specific information. In addition, the protection of women must be improved, because we all know that women are the most affected by this pandemic.