Intrepid Travel has launched new women-only expeditions to Pakistan and Israel and Palestinian Territories – a move by the Melbourne-based travel company to strengthen its commitment to gender equality by including more female tour guides and female-owned enterprises on its tours.
The two new destinations add to the existing portfolio of Iran, Jordan, Nepal, Kenya, Morocco, Turkey and India; with customer numbers on the women-only expedition range growing 116 per cent in 2019.
“This is Intrepid’s fastest-growing range to date, and we have seen women connect with women in powerful and moving ways,” Intrepid Travel senior product manager Jenny Gray said.
“Now in its third year, local female leaders offer insight and a unique understanding of women in these regions with respect to their cultural and religious values. We have found experiences that share stories of female empowerment, and directly benefit local women by seeking out female-owned accommodation, restaurants, suppliers, and businesses in Pakistan and Israel and Palestinian territories,” she added.
This emphasis is in line with Intrepid Travel’s new gender equality goals. Last year, the travel company met its target of doubling female tour leaders, in its bid to increase opportunities for women in tourism. There were 154 female leaders in 2017; in January 2020, that number was 342.
In 2020, Intrepid will enhance those goals with new commitments to increase employment opportunities for women in the travel industry, including doubling the number of female porters globally who assist travellers on mountain hikes in Tanzania, Peru and Nepal.
“It’s crucial for us to enable women in all levels of the business – from our leaders on the ground all the way to gender parity on our board,” Intrepid Travel CEO James Thornton said.
Supply chain is an ongoing focus for Intrepid. The travel company will perform a rigorous audit to assess how many suppliers are women-owned or women-led in 2020. In 2021, Intrepid will work with its biggest suppliers to maximise opportunities for women and reduce gender inequality.
The Pakistan: Women’s Expedition, priced at A$4,270 (US$2,535), is a 15-day journey to Pakistan’s remote northern mountains, where a local female leader will guide guests to the Hunza and Yasim valleys. Guests will get to meet the local women working on empowerment projects throughout the region; stay with a local family in a remote mountain village, and witness the march of modern Pakistan in the country’s capital of Islamabad.
The Israel and Palestinian Territories: Women’s Expedition (A$3,195) is an eight-day journey to Israel and Palestinian Territories with local female leaders and guides from Israeli, Palestinian and Bedouin backgrounds.
Guests will get the chance to meet Palestinian peace activists, break bread with Bedouin women, and learn about Israeli women working to secure the right to pray at the Western Wall. They can also visit a social tourism project in an artist’s village in Arad, explore the West Bank city of Ramallah with a local peace activist, and enjoy a home-cooked meal and discussion with activists from the Women Wage Peace organisation.