In the tourism industry where women make up almost 60% of the workforce, we have witnessed massive gender disparity in tour guiding as a profession. Women have faced various barriers ranging from lack of education and training opportunities to cultural constraints. Even those who break down the barriers to become tour guides, face a host of challenges from discrimination to sexual harassment. Guests flirting with female guides, tours turning out as dates, unwanted touching and invasion of privacy of female guides are common problems that these women battle with. In many countries, female tour guides are expected to bunk with their male colleagues in accommodations.
However, we have seen some positive progress where women are challenging stereotypes by entering the male-dominated profession. An important driver is the demand for female-led tours and solo travel. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) issued tourist guide licenses to qualified Saudi women in 2019. Of interest is National Geographic’s thought-provoking collaboration with Mattel in 2019. By creating a line of travel-themed Barbie dolls, they were able to encourage young girls to aspire to careers like wildlife photojournalist and polar marine biologist.
Women experience the world differently and a female tour-guide’s perspective in presenting the world through a female gaze can portray destinations, cultures and stories differently. What can we do to pave the way for more women to become tour guides globally?
In episode 3, Nisha (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nishatourismexpert/ ) and Zinal (https://www.linkedin.com/in/zinal-doshi/) speak with Nikki Padilla Rivera, a female tour guide who has shattered the glass ceiling in the male-dominated profession and taken the road less travelled. Nikki has worked as a NYC tour guide, a multi-day tour leader, a tour designer for two multi-day start-up operators, and as the Director of the Guide Program at Intrepid Urban Adventures (where she oversees over 160 local operators and 1500+ guides). She advocates for guides to be acknowledged as the most vital part of the tourism environment through the Global Guide Alliance. She is also the co-founder of NextGenTravel, a New York City networking group that brings together all aspects of the travel business. Through her company, Trip Kinetics, Nikki helps with travel operators to improve their guiding and travel experience.
Nikki can be reached via:
This podcast is jointly presented by:
World Women Tourism https://www.worldwomentourism.com/
The Flapper Life https://www.theflapperlife.com/