Nutrition and sport and exercise

Professor Marina Novelli

Advancing gender equality in tourism

Major progress has been made advancing gender equality globally, but women and girls continue to face precarious employment in many economic sectors, particularly tourism, according to a University of Brighton expert.

Professor Marina Novelli will be speaking and moderating an expert panel on the issue at the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) 1st Regional Congress on ‘Women Empowerment in the Tourism Sector – Focus on Africa’ in Ghana’s capital Accra between 25 and 27 November.

Marina Novelli, Professor of Tourism and International Development and Academic lead for the University’s Responsible Futures research and enterprise agenda, was invited by UNWTO to contribute to “this groundbreaking event, as a leading academic in the field of tourism for sustainable development in Africa”.

Amongst Professor Novelli’s professional engagements in the African continent are her advisory roles on workforce capacity building, training needs analysis, train the trainers’ programmes and curriculum development. It is for this reason that she was invited to contribute particularly to the Congress discussions on “Education and technology as a tool for women’s socio-economic advancement in Tourism” drawing upon 20 years of her Africa-focused research, consultancy and teaching.

She said: “Significant progress has been made throughout the years in advancing gender equality. However, women and girls are still likely to be marginalized in many economic sectors and face precarious employment, particularly in tourism. Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development therefore aims to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’.

“Tourism is one of the key economic sectors with the potential to contribute to greater gender equality and the empowerment of women. This is especially important because tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing sectors, which accounts, directly and indirectly, for 10% of the world’s jobs and GDP.”

With a background in economics, Professor Novelli has written and advised extensively in the field of international tourism policy, planning, development and management in Africa, Europe and Asia. Working for World Bank, EU, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, Commonwealth Secretariat, Millennium Challenge Corporation, National Ministries, Tourism Boards, Regional Development Agencies and NGOs.

Her key areas of expertise include: diagnostic, monitoring and evaluation; sustainable development and responsible management approaches; niche tourism product development; community-based value chain diversification and development; workforce capacity development; governance and institutional development; service standards and optimisation in hospitality and tourism.

She said: “Generally, being a woman in the tourism industry is tough. I could share many personal accounts of the ‘good, the bad and the (occasionally) ugly’ of being both as an academic and a practitioner in the sector. However, things are changing for the better and one way of moving forward is to shift the narratives about Women in Tourism globally and in Africa. Without ignoring the challenges associated with operating in such a complex sector, we must change the narratives about women’s involvement in tourism from being simply about ‘service sector workers’ into inspiring stories about ‘empowerment, leadership and success’ that increasingly permeates our sector today.”

Professor Novelli uses a Peer2Peer pro-activist and impact-oriented education and skills development framework, a mechanism “enhancing the contribution of students and non-traditional learners from different backgrounds”.

She said: “I remain committed to generating new knowledge on ways in which tourism can play a key role in sustainable development by stimulating local economies, conserving the environment, developing people and changing lives, particularly of women and youth.”

For more on the 1st Regional Congress go to: and for more on Professor Novelli visit:

Kerry Burnett • November 20, 2019

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