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15 Apr, 2012

“Women in Travel” Forum in Bangkok to Highlight History, Leadership Roles

Bangkok – Web In Travel, a leading regional conference on travel distribution, marketing and technology, is hold its first WITX-Women In Travel on April 27 at the Dusit Thani hotel in Bangkok.

The one-day conference aims to put the spotlight on women leadership and vision in travel and tourism and share insights into the women’s market in terms of how they behave online and what they want when they travel.

According to the UNWTO/UN Global Report on Women in Tourism 2011, (the first such report to look at women’s participation in the tourism sector worldwide), tourism provides a wide range of income-generation opportunities for women, particularly in developing regions.

Women are almost twice as likely to be employers in tourism as compared to other sectors. Tourism also offers leadership possibilities, with women accounting for one in five tourism ministers worldwide; more than in any other branch of government.

Nevertheless, the report said, women are often “concentrated in low-skill, low-paid and precarious jobs,” typically earn “10% to 15% less than their male counterparts,” and tend to perform jobs such as cooking, cleaning and hospitality.

A history of the Thai tourism industry indicates a strong line-up of women who have played a major role. The Dusit Thani hotel, where the event is being held, was founded by Thanpuying (a Thai honorific to the equivalent of “Dame”) Chanut Piya-oui.

Other dominant women in Thai tourism history include the late Thanpuying Somsri Rajapruek (owner of President hotel group), Thanpuying Lersak Sombatsiri (the first female minister in Thai history and owner of the Nai Lert Park hotel), Pornsri Luphaiboon, formerly of the Oriental hotel and one of the first PR managers in the Thai hospitality industry, Ankana Kalantananda, also formerly of the Oriental hotel and one of the first Guest Relations managers in Thai hospitality, and Mrs Chitdee Rangvara, former PR Director of Thai Airways International.

Prominent veteran Thai female tour operators include the late Bessie Samargachan of Boon Vanit Travel and Suphanee Bencharit of SEA Tours.

During the event, women leaders covering various sectors of tourism will be sharing their views on market trends and lessons from their careers.

They include Jennie Chua, veteran hotelier, who rose from general manager of Raffles Hotel to CEO of Raffles Hotels & Resorts before joining CapitaLand where she is now chief corporate officer.

Three Thai women, Suchada Yuvaboon, chairman of Rose Garden; Marisa Sukosol of Sukosol Hotels and Resorts; and Chananya Phataraprasit, chairman of Asian Oasis, will talk about their family businesses and what it takes to remain relevant to a new generation of travellers.

Aw Kah Peng, chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board, will share the story of Singapore’s transformation and what role women play in the country’s tourism strategy.

Giving perspectives into the online market are Sabina Chopra, co-founder of Yatra, one of India’s leading Online Travel Agencies and Melissa Yang, CTO of Tujia, a leading vacation rental site in China.

Customer insights will be shared through a mix of research from Experian Hitwise and Accor Asia Pacific and personal stories by two women travellers in a panel moderated by Carmen Roberts of BBC Fast Track.

Themes such as building the next generation of leaders and the role of women in technology will be explored by Aliza Knox, managing director, commerce of Google Asia Pacific, Purva Misra, Vice President-HR for MakeMyTrip, India and Adriana Gascoigne, founder of Girls In Tech.

“I’ve always seen Thailand as a very feminine destination for some reason – the food, spas, shopping, temples – all these make it an amazing place for women.

“Women are also a formidable force in Thai travel and tourism; I’ve been inspired by so many Thai women who own hotels and run businesses. And I am looking forward to being inspired by the formidable cast of women we’ve gathered for our first WITX,” said Yeoh Siew Hoon, editor and founder of WIT.

As part of WITX, a Charity Bazaar, being organized by Suchada Yuvaboon and Chananya Phataraprasit, will offer unique Thai products for sale and proceeds after costs will go towards the HomenetThailand, a Thai foundation that provides employment for women.)

View the programme here and book your seat.