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Thoughts on the Women in Tourism YOYP Conference by Katie Jowett

In this guest blog, Katie Jowett, Masters Student,Tourism MA, Aalborg University, Copenhagen, shares her insights from the Women in Tourism Conference held on the 19 November 2018.

I travelled 652, 408 miles for the Women in Tourism Year of Young People Conference.

In the 9th century, the Vikings came to Scotland and settled, they were one of the first international tourist groups to permanently settle…not surprising when you see how similar the weather is to their own. Then earlier in November, I and two of my Tourism MA classmates made (not quite) the same journey from Copenhagen (Denmark) to Glasgow for the Women In Tourism’s Year of Young People conference. Luckily we did not have to travel the long distance by boat but by plane thanks to a certain Irish travel company.

A key concept we are taught on the Tourism MA at Aalborg University Copenhagen is that as professionals we should learn from others, be inspired by different industries, look for meaningful connections in our actions and contribute to the future of the industry to create sustainability. Something which we have been told Denmark looks to areas such as Scotland and the Lake District for inspiration. From living in Scotland myself, this is something I had been aware of in many other industries in the country, I felt that the Scottish did not necessarily see each other as competition, but as people to connect with and work in collaboration to accomplish their goals. A theme I have also seen in the work of the Women in Tourism network over the last year.

Therefore, when I saw that they (WIT) would be holding their first conference and that it would be around the theme of the year of young people, I jumped at the chance to see if this collaboration and forward way of thinking applied to the tourism and hospitality industry too. The conference, as a young(ish) person myself, offered me the chance to hear from professionals at different stages of their careers and to network.

In my excitement to visit my second home of Scotland once again and the prospect of seeing if this was the country I wanted to work in after my studies, I encouraged my coursemates to find out about the conference too, students from all around the world, and I was happy to see that some of them wished to join me on the trip.

What was great about the conference was that WIT had released the delegate list in advance so that attendees were able to see who we would be getting to network with, what experience they could bring to the conference and the many different industries. Then on the day, we had plenty of opportunities to get to know each other around the workshops. Scotland proving that no matter what level of your career you’re at, everyone is happy to chat about their current projects…Sheila Gilmore of Visit Arran said you just have to smile.

As for the workshops, I followed the mentorship and leadership pathways, as being encouraged to be reflective is something I find important to be successful. *Apologies to the social media and the mentor workshop* but the leadership session was certainly my favourite, a lighthearted discussion which touched upon the issues often faced by employees and managers. Dale MacPhee and Valerie Lederer gave a fascinating insight into the differences of being a leader and a manager, as well as what it is like to be a female leader in the tourism and hospitality industry. By the end of the session, I was left feeling inspired to become the best leader possible no matter what level I worked at.

Overall, the conference was a great opportunity to see how the tourism and hospitality industry in Scotland is making the efforts needed to become sustainable in building relations with its current and future employees – demonstrated during the Meet the CEO session. The possibilities discussed and life teachings showed how passionate everyone is to show the world that Scotland is a leader in change for the industry.

I also got to speak with a number of passionate individuals from many different organisations and find out about how those connected with WIT already have the same values of those we are told about on the Tourism course in Denmark.

Now I hope to bring together my experiences from Scotland, the conference and those I met, to inform how I see tourism and hospitality across the world on my course here in Denmark.

Women in Tourism would like to thank Katie Jowett for sharing her insights in this guest blog.