Female Empowerment and the Opportunity to Travel Solo

With inclusion of women in the labor market in recent decades, the role of women in society has been changing, empowering women over their own lives. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women registered at a higher-level educational degree increased more than the female population growth in most Latin American countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Costa Rica. In addition, birth rates in the region fell from 3.6 children per woman to 2.1 between, between 1987 and 2016, indicating a sharp shift in the way women plan their own lives.

All of these factors point to a scenario for women’s empowerment while creating new opportunities for women of all age groups, status and lifestyles to become a more relevant public for the tourism industry. According to a survey conducted in January 2017 by the Ministry of Tourism of Brazil, one in out of eight Brazilian women who showed intention to travel within the next six months intended to do it alone. In numbers, this represents almost 3 million women – the equivalent of the entire population of Cali, a city in Colombia – who intend to travel without the company of spouses, family or close friends. In most cases, these women want the freedom to make their own travel itinerary and the opportunity to enjoy a singular and personal experience. For tourism, this demand of female tourists translates itself as an opportunity to offer personalized services. However, it also brings some challenges.

One of the main concerns of women traveling solo relates to personal safety. Many of them report frequently checking the reviews of destinations and accommodations on sites like TripAdvisor, Hostelz and Oysters to ensure that the sites offer security. Requesting GPS when renting a car is also another common feature among female tourists traveling alone in order to avoid the risk of being lost at an unfamiliar location and being at the mercy of strangers. But not all women travelers prefer to travel alone. With that in mind, the Brazilian travel agency ‘Mulheres Por Mundo’ (‘Women Around the Globe, in free translation), for example, connects women who seek the company of other women to travel in a strong appeal to convenience.

In the coming years, the increase in the average female marriage age and the decrease in fertility rates should be consolidated as a reflection of the independence of women in most Latin American countries. With the empowerment of women reinforcing its importance, this population group will consolidate themselves as an important public for the tourism industry.