Turning the Tide: gender matters in hospitality and tourism

This week, starting today, Singapore hosts the Women in Hospitality and Tourism Conference in Singapore. Sonia Tatar, CEO of Les Roches International, is attending as a conference speaker.

Women in Hospitality and Tourism Conference in SingaporeTo some, the issue of women’s empowerment may seem a) old news; and b) slightly irrelevant to the hospitality education sector.

Here’s why it’s not:

Women are the biggest ‘emerging market’ – one billion women will enter the global economy in the coming decade Women working in the tourism industry are on average paid 25% less than male workers for comparable skills Women represent two thirds of the global tourism industry labor force
Asia has the lowest average participation of women in the hotel and restaurant sectors
Huge growth over the next 10 years through the creation of 73 million jobs in the travel and tourism sector (of which almost 60% will be in APAC), offers a big opportunity to up‐skill employees
The challenges are varied: from attraction, retention, reward and recognition, and workplace safety; the business case for creating a gender diverse and equitable workforce is clear.

In his paper ‘International Perspectives on Women and Work in Hotels, Catering and Tourism,’ Professor Tom Baum asserts:

The recruitment, retention and promotion of talented women for technical and managerial leadership positions will be necessary to meet the future skills and productivity requirements of the sector. Moreover, women will comprise an even larger proportion of the sector’s client base as more will travel for business and leisure. This too will have an impact on gender equality in the recruitment of employees.

So, education is both a need and an opportunity. And perhaps one of the biggest countries of opportunity is China.

Les Roches’ new Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Global Hospitality Management, which just started January 2014, is the first program of its kind, offering students an educational experience across three campuses in Switzerland, China and Spain.

‘We decided to include China in this BBA for several reasons,’ says Sonia Tatar.

‘First, international hotel companies—which have excellent potential for growth in Asia—are looking to hire graduates who are not only used to a multicultural work environment, but who also have expertise acquired in different parts of the world.

Second, China, in particular, is one of the most important markets for the industry. The potential for growth is enormous, an estimated 100 billion industry with 6.3 million rooms in the next 10 years.

Third, economic growth has created a large Chinese middle class that is travelling across the world and requires a clear understanding of how to best cater services to their needs, specifically in terms of leisure and vacation habits.’

The new Global Degree BBA program gives students unique and differentiatedexposure to China and other countries where the hospitality sector is in full and rapid expansion, providing them with a competitive edge to enter this professional market.

Les Roches has many female Chinese students. The education and practical training they receive at Les Roches is an important contribution to transforming gender-related issues in both the global and Asian hospitality and tourism sectors.