Tourism officials from the 21 APEC member-economies convened last week in pursuit of sustainable and inclusive economic growth through strengthened tourism initiatives, with a special focus on gender equality.

A United Nations World Tourism Organization report found that while women in tourism make up a substantial proportion of the formal tourism workforce and are well represented in service and clerical level jobs, they are poorly represented at professional and management levels and typically earn 10 to 15 per cent less than their male counterparts.

Recognizing tourism as a pathway to success for women, the APEC Women in Tourism Dialogue aims to address these gender gaps by focusing discussions on the empowerment of women’s productivity and economic participation within the sector.

“As we further enhance our national tourism strategy, with an eye toward gender equality, we see heightened roles and visibility of women in Papua New Guinea and the APEC region,” says Dr Alcinda Trawen, Director for Policy and Planning of the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority.

“Through this collaboration with our colleagues in other APEC economies, we hope to see the expansion of opportunities in the supply chain for women, women handling more leadership and managerial roles, and long-term improvement in the quality of life among women in the tourism industry,” she added.

APEC member-economies, shares Dr Trawen, can aid Papua New Guinea in strengthening its tourism industry to become an engine for sustainable and inclusive economic growth through the sharing of best practices, technical advice and assistance that focus on promoting labor, skills development, and certification and policy alignment.

Currently, the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority has made giant strides in improving local tourism services. Supported by the World Bank, the Tourism Sector Development Project, which began last November 2017 directly benefits local communities and private sector enterprises like micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Additionally, efforts to strengthen the overall tourism institutional framework and to support the growing arts and cultural industries are expected to generate benefits beyond these provinces at the national level.

As Papua New Guinea’s tourism develops, local tourism sectors are better equipped to provide economic opportunities for the bottom 40 per cent and are able to establish longer-term employment and business generation paths. They ensure the preservation of natural and cultural assets and provide women in the tourism sector greater visibility and increased economic empowerment.