Celebrating the empowerment of women in travel and tourism

The latest initiative from the Travel Agents Association of India (TAI) and Women in TAAI and Tourism (WITT) held their first conclave in New Delhi to celebrate women’s empowerment. The success of the event can be measured by the fact that more than 200 TAAI and WITT members as well as numerous media were present during the deliberations. Initiated in 2021 by the dynamic president of TAAI, Ms. Jyoti Mayal of WITT is an integral part of TAAI.

Bettaiah Lokesh, Hon, Secretary General, delivering the introductory remarks and setting the tone for the conclave, briefed the participants on the contribution of women in various sectors be it politics, leadership, decision making on various fronts, l education, health, etc.

Moving the conclave forward, Jyoti Mayal, President, introduced the officers and management committee members present at the August meeting. In her welcome speech, Mayal presented the idea, the training and the process involved in setting up WITT, which was well received and appreciated by the participants. She shared a three-step approach to entrepreneurship, employment and leadership based on women’s contribution to the world. Mayal also referred to statistics published by various organizations, including the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in which women’s contribution was recorded.

WITT has achieved its main objective which is to involve “women in tourism” to unite to empower Indian women, as Shri G. Kamala Rao, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism, praised and appreciated the efforts made in his opening speech. He went on to highlight the importance of women in Indian culture and quoted various verses from ancient Sanskrit texts in which the importance of women was delineated.

Mr. Praveen Kumar, former Secretary of the Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) deeply thanked WITT for organizing such a conclave. In his remarks, he agreed that:

The contributions of women in the travel industry should be highlighted.

And the focus should be on transforming unorganized contribution into organization so that women get their fair share of recognition and growth. Mr. Kumar also indicated that he would raise with MSDE the sensitivity of having more women centered programs initiated and launched to extend support to the community.

The first session, weaving tales, moderated by Jyoti Mayal, was attended by esteemed panelists Rupinder Brar, ADG, Ministry of Tourism; Navina Jafa, cultural activist; Shazia IImi, politician and journalist; Jahnabi Phookan, Past President, FICCI Flo; Sanjay Bose, ITC Hotels; and Aarti Manocha, famous Wedding Planner. The deliberations and stories focused on mentorship in safety, security, hygiene, as well as issues and challenges that women typically face. Comprehensive capacity building programs at different levels and empowering women to lead were also discussed.

The second session, Create your sunshine, had esteemed panelists Sandeep Dwivedi, COO, Interglobe; Nandita Kanchan, Commissioner of Income Tax (Delhi); Charu Wali Khanna, lawyer; Parineeta Sethi, editor; Sonia Bharwani, VFS; and Aditi Malik, soft skills expert. Moderating the session, Jay Bhatia solicited everyone’s input on various issues related to taxation, legal aspects, skills required and the contribution of women in various sectors and how they are today empowered to create their sun.

The SATTE team which partnered with WITT unveiled the Shakti Awards logo during the conclave and congratulated several women leaders: Rupinder Barar, ADG, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India; Chef Manisha Bhasin, Senior Executive Chef at ITC Hotels for his outstanding contribution to hospitality; Navina Jafa, cultural activist, dancer and academician for her outstanding contribution to the promotion of heritage tourism; Arshdeep Anand, board member of Holiday Moods Adventures Groups of Companies, for promoting adventure tourism; Jahnabi Phookan, Founder of Jungle Travels India, for his outstanding contribution in promoting holistic tourism in North East India; and, the leader of the future – Kanika Tekaiwal, founder of JetSetGo India.

In conclusion, Shreeram Patel, Hon. The Treasurer, delivered a vote of thanks with special mention from VFS Global, SATTE, Indigo, Government of India – Incredible India and Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC) for supporting the cause and making the conclave a hit.

Management Committee members Shri Anoop Kanuga, Dr. P. Murugesan, Shri Ramasamy Venkatachalam and Shri Kulvinder Singh Kohli were an integral part of the conclave along with former President Balbir Mayal whose empowerment of President Jyoti Mayal was appreciated.

Mara R. Wilmoth