A HIGHLAND travel agency is calling for gender equality in the travel industry this International Women’s Day (March 8).
Sarah Murray, travel director of Murray Travel, has made the appeal a week after the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) unveiled new guidelines designed to allow businesses and governments to better cater for the needs of women in the tourism industry.
The UNWTO reports that women make up more than half of the global tourism workforce (54%) however are often concentrated in low-skilled or informal work, and have fewer opportunities for education and career development.
Mrs Murray said: “The travel industry – from travel agents to cabin crew – is a female-dominant environment around the world, and especially here in the UK. However, men more often fill managerial positions in the travel industry while women tend to fill lower-skilled roles.
“The UNWTO has outlined a roadmap for travel industry recovery that places gender equality at its heart. During the pandemic, women disproportionately lost their jobs as businesses were affected, and these new standards for the industry look to redress that imbalance.
“These plans also aim to improve job prospects for women in the travel industry, allowing more female staff to make the step up to management and leadership roles.”
Murray Travel is leading the charge in gender balance, with only two men in the company’s 14-strong team. During the pandemic, the firm – run by husband-and-wife team Scott and Sarah Murray – acquired two local travel agencies to retain tourism talent in the Highlands, and secure jobs for many local women who have built their careers in the tourism industry.
Mrs Murray continued: “Women face many unique issues in the workplace, including issues with childcare. This can include struggling to find jobs with the flexibility to work around childcare and school holidays.
“The standard pay in the travel industry can also be quite low and this, coupled with the average gender pay gap, means that the cost of childcare can often outweigh going back to work after maternity leave. This leads to talented people leaving the industry – and therefore customers losing out due to the loss of experienced travel agents.
“At Murray Travel, our team – from management to administration – is almost wholly female. We have structured our workplace to ensure that everyone is treated equally, and that the support and training each individual requires is available when they need it.
“We are passionate about improving equality within the travel industry and are committed to closing gender pay gaps and inequalities in the workplace to ensure that everyone with a passion for travel can find a place to excel.”
Murray Travel (formerly Inverness Travel) was established in 2014 by husband-and-wife team Scott and Sarah Murray, who added to their portfolio in 2021 with the takeover of local agencies Alba Travel and Beaver Travel. The firm operates travel boutiques in Inverness and Elgin, and will soon open a premises in Forres. Mr and Mrs Murray also co-founded Wanderluxe, a homeworking agency based in Sawbridgeworth.
The Murray Travel team has won numerous awards for its high quality of customer service and innovative business practices. Murray Travel is a member of ABTA, AITO and the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association. For more information, visit www.murraytravel.co.uk or head to @themurryatravel on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.