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World Tourism Day 2007 Focus on Women

On the occasion of World Tourism Day 2007 a think tank was hosted in Bentota (Sri Lanka) supported by the World Tourism Organization under the theme “Tourism Opening Doors for Women.”

The discussions that took place, predominantly by women who have played prominent roles in tourism worldwide, covered topics on the importance of women in the tourism sector, improving the role of women in tourism and accentuating their role, particularly in developing countries.

The discussion raised many issues such as the need to create appropriate policy frameworks for women’s economic empowerment, with tourism as a primary component.

Also, they discussed the requirement of “opening doors in tourism and making it possible for women to go through them,” including good training, development programs, targeted information, equal pay and good career development.

They covered the particular opportunities presented to women by agritourism, ecotourism, and health & wellness tourism.

Within this context, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, vice president of the European parliament and a member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, expressed her opinion on a recent Eurostat survey published in Brussels.

The results indicate the presence of women in the tourism sector in Greece is poor in comparison with that of other countries in the European Union. The statistics show that 56 percent of Europeans in the tourism industry are women. In Estonia, 76 percent are women, 83 percent in Lithuania, and 95 percent in Letonia but in Greece only 44 percent in the tourism industry are women.

Ms. Kratsa said: “Tourism is a pillar for the European economy and development and Greece has a longstanding advantage as a tourism destination therefore the position of women within the industry and its services must reflect this.”

She added that on the occasion of World Tourism Day, “the industry must take action that will cement the rights of women in the sector and provide them with more substantial and important employment opportunities.”

The survey also indicated a large chasm in the pay scales of men and women in the tourism sector in Greece. On average, women in the industry receive 26 percent less than men, and this is by far one the biggest gaps in pay amongst European Union members. The smallest gaps were found in Belgium with women earning on average seven percent less than men, Denmark and Malta both at 13 percent and Bulgaria and Sweden tied at 14 percent.

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