The pioneering women defining the Travel & Tourism sector — then & now

On International Working Women’s Day, we look to and celebrate the female adventurers, reporters, campaigners, thinkers and workers who have set precedents and shaped today’s Travel & Tourism sector. Here are just a handful of them:

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Dian Fossey and the Rwandan gorillas she served to protect. Photo: StarTribune.

1. Explorers and adventurers

Then: Jeanne Baret

Now: Laura Dekker

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The formidable Bessie Coleman and her airplane. Photo: Atlas Obscura.

2. Pilots

Then: Bessie Coleman

Now: Beverly Burns

3. Journalists

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Then: Nellie Bly

Now: Lale Arikoglu & Meredith Carey, Women Who Travel Podcast

4. Conservationists and illegal wildlife trade campaigners

Then: Dian Fossey

Now: Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi

Now: Dame Jane Goodall

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Dame Jane Goodall and her primate friend. Photo: National Geographic

These are just a handful of the brilliant women whose work and legacies continue to transform the travel sphere and story. Not all of the global Travel & Tourism sector’s female workforce (46.4%) will win individual accolades or titles, but they will each be vital to the tourist experience, supporting the sustainable growth of the sector, and pioneering an innovative and diverse future for travel. The cleaners, caterers, check-in agents and tour guides. The destination marketeers, supply chain managers, Uber drivers and AirBnB hosts. The CEOs, Ministers, and breakers of glass ceilings. We salute the valuable contributions of every woman in the Travel & Tourism sector not only on International Women’s Day but every day.

Let us know the female travel leaders who are inspiring you on Twitter at @WTTC and in the comments below.

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Our mission is to maximise the inclusive and sustainable growth potential of the Travel & Tourism sector. Join the conversation #WTTC

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