Report identifies gaps in gender equity in the tourism industry of Vancouver Island

25% of women surveyed are not confident they will remain in the sector

Sept. 13, 2023, Snuneymuxw Territory (Nanaimo, BC) – Industry leaders are sounding the alarm after a newly released report has identified several gaps in gender equity within the tourism industry in the Vancouver Island Region. 


Earlier this year, WORTH Association (Women of Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality) conducted a study on gender equity with support from 4VI, surveying close to 400 women in the tourism industry. An inclusive definition of woman was used, with the survey also open to trans, cisgender, queer and non-binary participants. Through the research, issues in the region were examined to form recommendations that involve multiple stakeholders and rightsholders. 


The research identifies three areas of focus to build a more equitable and inclusive industry, while retaining and developing women in tourism and hospitality leadership. Efforts by businesses and organizations to improve data and reporting, training and education, and pay and total rewards are likely to reduce the impact of women leaving the sector. 


The next steps for 4VI and WORTH Association will be actioning a key recommendation from the report: to provide skill development opportunities to advance women in the tourism industry. Launching in January 2024, the two organizations will host a Leadership Education Program open to 50 women participants. The program will focus on the development of management skills, growing confidence, and advancing careers through coursework, assessments, and virtual coaching. Enrollment will open in November 2023. 


“We hope that these findings will be leveraged across the Vancouver Island Region for evidence-based decision making, with the ultimate goal of building a tourism industry that empowers women,” said Kyla Egan, Director, Sustainability, and project lead with 4VI. “This is critical to both the wellbeing of our region and the industry more broadly, as women empowerment is a critical factor in the improved social, economic, and environmental health of communities.”


“Gender-focused studies in the tourism and hospitality industries have been historically limited.” said WORTH founder, Joanna Jagger. “This is why WORTH Association is pleased to partner with 4VI to explore the state of gender equity in the region and make recommendations to move the dial as part of our mission to educate, elevate and empower women in these valuable industries across our province.”


According to Go2HR, the tourism and hospitality workforce in the Vancouver Island Region is comprised of 46% women (21,979) and 54% men (25,583). Employment for Vancouver Island women in tourism and hospitality decreased by 26% from 2019 to 2020, and 22% between 2019 and 2021. 


Overall, compared to BC’s 2019 employment data, Tourism HR Canada indicates fewer women are working in the industry in 2023; conversely, men’s employment saw gains. Census data has shown that gender inequality is prevalent in the tourism sector, where women are overrepresented in entry-level roles such as housekeepers, food counter attendants, hosts, and servers. The majority of women are concentrated in the accommodation sector (59%) and are less likely to be represented in senior management or executive positions. 


As the industry rebounds following the COVID-19 pandemic, attracting, retaining, and developing women is imperative. The sector is facing drastic labour shortages and women continue to exit the industry. The research shows that 25% of women surveyed are not confident they will remain in the sector within the next 12 to 24 months.  


An unintended outcome of such gender inequality is that women are excluded from the majority of opportunities in the industry which could result in shaping a more women-friendly work environment. Were women to be better represented in senior executive positions, in addition to having greater influence over the direction of the industry, there would also be more fairness in the earning opportunities for women, potentially influencing long term retention. 


Read the summary and full reports at


About 4VI

4VI is a social enterprise created to ensure travel is a force for good — forever. Headquartered on Vancouver Island, the organization takes a holistic approach to its work through the use of four pillars of social responsibility: businesses, communities, culture, and the environment. 4VI is putting its expertise into action by delivering innovative tourism advisory services for destinations and businesses through its for-profit arm. In addition, they proudly provide regional destination management services for the Vancouver Island Region through an agreement with Destination British Columbia. 4VI is the first destination management organization of its kind to not just commit to changing how tourism is managed, but to developing the corporate structure as a social enterprise that drives this much needed change. Learn more at


About WORTH Association

Incorporated in 2018, WORTH Association is proud to be the only society in British Columbia dedicated to advancing women in the recreation, tourism and hospitality industries. WORTH’s mission is to educate, elevate and empower women to collectively move the dial. Our vision is to develop a community of confident, connected women who accelerate their leadership ambitions in the face of adversity. We can form the future of our industry together. 

WORTH provides complimentary or minimally priced, networking and educational events, skills training, mentorship programs and leadership resources to keep women focused on their career ambitions. Above all, we foster a sense of community that many are searching for. To stay up to date on WORTH Association’s efforts, sign up for our free membership at




Media Contacts:

Brian Cant, 4VI: 250-888-8729 or [email protected]

Natalie Nicholls, WORTH Association: 604-345-0686 or [email protected]

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