Tourism’s role in society and local communities has certainly evolved over the years. The emergence of eco, community and volunteer tourism has contributed to tourism leaving a positive impact on a destination. Another area that tourism is having an impact on is gender equality and women’s empowerment. The United Nations World Tourism Organization has set out to foster a dialogue on this very important issue in the tourism sector.

At the recent World Travel Mart in London, the UNWTO hosted an event on Gender and Sustainable Tourism Development: Exploring the Links with ministers of tourism, entrepreneurs and NGOs. The event was geared toward discussing the opportunities and barriers that face women in the tourism industry.  Participants agreed on the need for well-strategized, persistent and concerted efforts and emphasized the importance of raising awareness on gender issues in the tourism sector.

Attendees gleaned insights on gender equality and the struggle for empowerment from such panelists as Liz Cramer Campos, the Minister of Tourism of Paraguay, and Angela Handjipateras, Founder and Co-Director of a community-based lodge in Mozambique and member of the Central America Women´s Network (CAWN). The event resulted in a call for more research that builds upon the UNWTO/UN Women Global Report and to make sure that the necessary gender data is frequently collected so that we as an industry can track the actual progress in our sector. To learn more about the event and download a full report, click here.

This is an issue we take very seriously at The Undiscovered Travel Collection. Many of the members of The Collection employ and empower women. Part of our tourism network Pearls of Uganda, the Boomu Women’s Group Bandas is located between Budongo Forest Reserve and Murchison Falls National Park and has about 40 members. The group was formed to combat poverty and malnutrition, and evolved into a wonderful community tourism project with accommodations, a restaurant, intimate guided tours and a well-tended garden.

Part of the Dominican Treasures tourism network, the off-grid Sonido Del Yaque Ecolodge is locally owned and operated by the New Hope Women’s Club just outside of Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic. This group of women believes in using the lodge as a way to improve the lives of their families and the community, and strives to promote renewable resource strategies locally and globally.

We invite you to discover The Collection and do your part to empower these women.

Hi, Talia Salem here, the new Marketing Coordinator for The Undiscovered Travel Collection.

Those who know me, know I love to travel. Traveling is something that is part of my very fiber. My passion for globetrotting and discovering new places arose in me at a very young age. I got my first passport at five months old and soon after went on my first international trip to Amman, Jordan. While I was not yet in control of my travel schedule, or anything for that matter, this early experience with travel undoubtedly stuck with me. 

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Growing up I made many more trips to Jordan to visit my mother’s family and explore the region. Each time I returned home with a slightly different perspective on the world, but I didn’t fully realize the importance of these experiences until I got to college. So when I was offered the opportunity to study abroad while working on my Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, naturally I accepted. I packed up my bags and moved to Paris, France for one year to immerse myself in the French culture, which included taking all my courses in French. While living and learning in French was challenging at times, especially considering how frequently I was asked about my political views during the Iraq war, I attribute my mastery of the French language to France’s intellectual curiosity about other cultures and other peoples’ opinions on politics and the world.

This year living in the cultural capital of France was indescribably enriching. The city is a veritable crossroads of different cultures, political beliefs, people, perspectives, and activities. It was also the perfect jumping-off point for traveling to lesser known, more intimate destinations in France and Europe, which allowed me to experience the authentic culture outside of the mainstream tourism meccas. (It is very rare to meet a Parisian that is actually from Paris; if they tell you they are, lookout for the unmistakably southern French “twang.”) This year of traveling in Europe led me to another year of living in France, which gave way to many other trips in other countries and eventually a career in the travel industry. 

As a traveler, travel industry professional and a travel writer, I always seek out new experiences and that feeling of being stimulated by a completely foreign essence. These days, an authentic and novel travel experience can be hard to come by. America has found its way into many destinations. You can hear American top 40 in a club in Dubai and eat McDonalds in China. And while these are the effects of globalization and they have a place in the tourism world, many travelers like me seek out a more unfamiliar experience.

 My quest to uncover new, off-the-beaten-path destinations is what attracted me to The Undiscovered Travel Collection. Our portfolio of destinations, communities, lodges and settings are largely unknown to the traveling public and provide a distinct and meaningful sense of place. The Collection is authentic by nature—and not only because authenticity is a huge travel trend right how. Our members do not have to hype up their local cuisine, high employment of local residents, or well-protected natural settings, because this is the inherent experience that The Collection offers.

We hope that you find something undiscovered in our Collection. I am signing off for now.

A la prochaine (until next time),

Talia Salem

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