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Adventure Travel Trade Association Releases New Report Highlighting The Challenges Faced by Women in Adventure Travel

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As part of the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s (ATTA) ongoing efforts to uplift women in leadership, the ATTA has published a new report titled, The Influence & Impact of Women in Adventure Travel. In collaboration with Switzerland Tourism, this new report, based on a study conducted in January 2022, presents fresh findings and a new understanding of the landscape of people who identify as women in the adventure travel sector.

The study included questions around topics such as the ratio of women in leadership positions, the impact of COVID-19 on working mothers, perceptions about companies with women in leadership, the impact of marketing to women travelers, and the rate of sexual harassment experienced by women in the industry. Although the report highlights optimistic findings about the adventure travel industry’s current standing in relation to other segments, it also presents striking data around the topic of sexual harassment and assault as well as regression in gender equality since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A previous study conducted by Adventure Travel Trade Association in 2017 suggested that female leadership in adventure tourism companies was in a more advanced position compared to the private sector of the economy as a whole. In the pre-pandemic world, McKinsey and Company had estimated that in a scenario in which women play an identical role in labor markets to that of men, as much as $28 trillion, or 26 percent, could be added to global annual GDP by 2025. However, likely due primarily to the effects of COVID-19, industries around the globe, including adventure tourism, have been set back in many of the goals and optimistic scenarios proposed by pre-pandemic research.

Key findings of ATTA’s report also concern organizational patterns, such as the fact that the percentage of board members identifying as women (34%), and the percentage of boards that have at least one woman (74%) have both decreased in the past 5 years, as well as learning that only 33% of companies with 2021 revenue of $5-10 million are led by women, and a slim 11% of companies with 2021 revenue over $10 million have a female CEO/top leader. 

“Businesses globally are recognizing the importance of women in leadership positions as well as the market of women adventure travelers,” shared ATTA President Casey Hanisko. “This report spotlights ATTA member businesses that showcase the dedication and innovation that happens when focusing on women as guides, hosts, and as unique travelers with specific values and needs.”

The research also presents optimistic findings such as organizations with female leaders are perceived as paying employees more fairly, while at the same time respondents also stated that work benefits related to schedule flexibility and working virtually are more likely to be offered by women leaders, possibly due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women related to childcare and other family responsibilities. 

ATTA published this report to coincide with International Women’s Day, not only to recognize and celebrate the progress of gender equality, but to provide recommendations for moving forward and continuing progress. The research findings convey the depth of work and commitment that has occurred, but more needs to be done to build an equitable and sustainable adventure travel industry that supports women in the areas of leadership and employment, travelers, and in local communities.

On 9 March (following International Women’s Day on 8 March 2022), ATTA’s Senior Manager of Research Heather Kelly and Switzerland Tourism’s Key Account Manager of Strategic Accounts Sarah Haselbacher will host the webinar Research Insights on Women in Adventure Travel to share key findings from the report, such as formal mechanisms to address practices of inclusion and gender equality, examples of successful women-focused campaigns, and recommendations on how to close the gender gap in adventure travel.

The report is the second in a series of research reports published by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and Switzerland Tourism that discusses how the adventure travel industry can use the current interruption in tourism to reassess their impact on the world around them and put sustainability first. Released in early 2021, the first report in the series was High Moments, Low Impact: Rethinking Adventure Travel’s Sustainability Efforts. The purpose of this series is to identify where the industry is now, what initiatives are happening, and where it needs to go to make tourism sustainable for the future of our planet and people. A similar survey was conducted in 2017, resulting in the ATTA report Out in Front: Tracking Women’s Leadership in Adventure Travel

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