Globally, the surge in the number of women spearheading start-up roles in travel and tourism is not just noteworthy; it’s revolutionary. Over the past few years, there’s been an unmistakable uptick in female-led initiatives that are infusing new life into the industry.

This trend signifies more than just an increase in numbers, but a paradigm shift in leadership styles and business approaches. Women are not just filling positions; they’re carving out new paths, championing innovative ideas, and reimagining the travel experience, and interestingly, tech-focused start-ups are dominating.

For example, Caryn Seidman Becker has transformed the travel experience through her pioneering company CLEAR, which uses biometric technology to provide travellers with a smooth and secure passage through airports, stadiums, and various venues. Becker’s commitment to improving customer experiences has set new standards for identity verification and security within the travel industry.

Leisure Travel Group reports that around 33% of travel companies are female-owned, while International Women’s Day research indicates that female entrepreneurs excel in identifying market gaps, innovating products, and leveraging technology in their businesses.

The Middle East opportunity

In the GCC region, a robust entrepreneurial culture has fuelled a surge in start-up businesses led by women, averaging at 40.9% of the total, according to World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) 2022 Global Gender Gap report. Countries including the UAE and Saudi Arabia have emerged as trailblazers in championing female empowerment in government and business, including the start-up scene.

Supported by a robust ecosystem, female entrepreneurship in the UAE grew 68% in 2022, according to WEF, while a recent survey by Nama Women Advancement in partnership with the UN Women’s Empowerment Section reveals there were more than 25,000 female entrepreneurs working on 50,000 business projects worth at least AED60 billion (US$16.34 billion) last year.

In Saudi Arabia where Vision 2030 goals include creating more than one million jobs for women, a series of reforms are empowering women to play a major role in the future development of the country’s economy. Women now comprise 37% of the kingdom’s workforce and are seizing every opportunity to run their own business, which has led to a female entrepreneur boom.

Female tech start-ups take the lead

Supporting women in travel and tourism start-ups is not just about funding and resources, but also recognising and addressing the unique challenges they face, and organisations like the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) play a vital role in this arena.

The UNWTO’s global report on tourism found that more than 54% of people employed in the tourism are women, while in the Arab world, women represent 8% of the regional tourist workforce.

You can access the full article written by Gemma Greenwood here.