2024 Conference
All Conferences
TSVC | Tourism Students Virtual Conference

Travel constraints, coping strategies and overcoming disempowerment in modern day tourism; an intersectional perspective.

Travel constraints, coping strategies and overcoming disempowerment in modern day tourism; an intersectional perspective.
Author: Lacey Moore
1 Commentries
It has been widely acknowledged in academic literature that solo travel is becoming increasingly important for females, irrespective of their ethnicity, sexuality or disability. Studies show the motives to go it alone include experience, escape, relaxation, social and self esteem (Chiang & Jogaratnam, 2006), and leave them with a feeling of fulfilment and general life satisfaction. Whilst this much is true, marginalised groups of females such as black, LGBTQ and disabled, may not have such similar or positive experiences; female oppression in tourism dates back as early as the 1700s. The aim of this report is to recognise the difficulties that women face as a whole as well as more specific constraints from an intersectional perspective and suggest some future research topics to enhance knowledge around the subject. Women are not a homogenous group and so any fears discussed in the literature should be noted to be inaccurate for some travellers. After thorough review of the literature, it was clear to see that the main constraints stemmed from the risk of sexual assault from a male (Wilson & Little, 2008), and the pressure of choosing appropriate accommodation for their trip. This is because there is an increased desire to have more hands-on, authentic experiences with the locals on their travels and the development of non-hotel peer-to-peer rentals grants them this. Whilst this can be seen across groups, it was also found that black women additionally face fears of racial abuse, with some women recalling flat refusal of service in some destinations. Whilst this is shocking and upsetting, some explained that they’d rather talk to these people to understand their perspective instead of being offended; again highlighting the intersectional response within the group. Literature also showed that LGBTQ females face difficulty in fitting in and relating to a destination due to the sometimes lack of LGBTQ neighbourhoods, and over half reported receiving abuse as a result of their identity. Meanwhile, disabled females do not explicitly fear male’s sexual oppression so much as not having the appropriate equipment and their lack of social skills. This is because most of these females havent been exposed to solo travel experiences before and therefore lack the confidence in doing so. The literature clearly shows that different groups of women face different obstacles when travelling, and the negotiation strategies used by them have also been widely researched. The main findings showed that females were most likely to wear less feminine clothes, as a result of their unsought centrality of the gaze, in order to distract from their femininity and sexuality. Their geography of fear (a mental map of dangerous parts of town) is activated and the likelihood of not going out after dark, leaving certain places where feelings of fear arise and simply not going to certain public places such as pubs and cinemas alone are extremely likely (Valentine, 1989). As a result, these feelings of inferiority and vulnerability lead to a lesser participation in leisure activities and ultimately, reduced enjoyment of their trip. However, whilst these are constraints that solo female travellers must navigate, they challenge and overcome the forces that disempower them simply by doing so! The tenacity of the women to continue to travel, regardless of the community in which they belong to, continues to inspire themselves as well as other people to explore the world. Many brands now aim to penetrate this lucrative market, recognising the power they possess within the industry, as well as showing solidarity to other females in these often-similar situations. As a result, travel can allow one to analyse their inner self as a sum of their constraints and negotiations, leading to ideas of how they can improve themselves and the society around them. In response to the current academic literature, more research should be done around black women’s experiences as there is very little available at present. There should also be more of an intersectional consideration for how the travel industry can cater better to these groups, and by listening to these very people, there would be a fairer industry. It could also be interesting to look at the travel behaviours of these groups and see how brands can target and support their needs better in the future, as shown that they promise loyal custom in an everchanging industry. As it stands, females have faced oppression in the industry for over 300 years and it is therefore the responsibility of society as a whole to move beyond the belief that women simply should not travel alone.

Chiang, C.Y. and Jogaratnam, G. (2006) Why do women travel solo for purposes of leisure? Journal of Vacation Marketing, 12(1) 59-70. Available from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1356766706059041 [accessed 23 Mar 2020].

Valentine, G. (1989) The geography of women's fear. Area, 21(4) 385-390. Available from https://www.jstor.org/stable/20000063?seq=1 [accessed 24 Apr 2020].

Wilson, E. and Little, D.E. (2008) The Solo Female Travel Experience: Exploring the 'Geography of Women's Fear.' Current Issues in Tourism, 11(2) 167-186. Available from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2167/cit342.0 [accessed 22 Apr 2020].
Commentary of discussion on the travel constraints, coping strategies and overcoming disempowerment in modern day tourism
Author: Megan Warner
I have selected this discussion paper to comment on as it shows a clear link with my own conference paper and discussion on the impact the female gender role has on solo travel experiences. This paper clearly highlights the difficulties and challenges that women had to face dating back to the early 1700s. The author has evidently completed a substantial amount of research regarding this topic and came to the conclusion that the main constraint was the sheer risk of sexual assault, harassment or physical violence from a male. The author has structured the discussion chronologically, flowing effectively by going into detail regarding the issues and challenges women had to overcome.

Valentine (1989) developed a study that showed women should avoid public areas, especially at night time. Furthermore, outdoor recreational spaces have been perceived by women as being a ‘landscape of fear’ area and they hold perceptions about the possibility of a physical violence encounter (Bialeschki, 2005). Whyte and Shaw (1994) designed a study that proved the female university students have a fear of violence, leading to them not wanting to participate in particular leisure activities. Despite this, the author expresses that although there is a ‘geography of fear’, according to Wilson and Little (2008), this should not have power over females, stopping them from fulfilling their sense of empowerment and self-development (Wilson and Little, 2008).

The author touched on female oppression, Gardner et al (2017) discussed that women have developed a ‘fear of crime’ due to the fact that they have been the victim of sexual harassment on public transport. Therefore, in the future to avoid situations like this from occurring again they would modify their behaviour (Gardner et al, 2017, 9). Linking to this, future academics could focus on this as a new research study looking closer at the impact this causes to women.

Bialeschki, M.D. (2005) Fear of violence: Contested constraints by women in outdoor recreation activities. In E.L. Jackson (ed.) Constraints to Leisure (pp. 103–114). State College, PA: Venture Publishing.

Gardner, N., Cui, J. and Coiacetto, E. (2017) Harassment on public transport and its impacts on women’s travel behaviour. Australian Planner, 54 (1) 8-15. Available from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/07293682.2017.1299189?casa_token=e2lftGNr9rEAAAAA:_DlyYcItyjnEC72ALx_95a7738G5JngWodR0eHfJmL8DvXH8xlQls6CwKvplGSZpP1CnqgAbwkVwog [accessed 3 May 2020].

Wilson, E. and Little, D.E. (2008) The Solo Female Travel Experience: Exploring the ‘Geography of Women's Fear’, Current Issues in Tourism, 11 (2) 167-186. Available from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2167/cit342.0?needAccess=true [accessed 4 March 2020].