The ATOAI Women’s Collective was formed to create a network of women entrepreneurs in the adventure tourism industry. AWC, in a partnership with TRAVTALK, recently launched a series called ‘Spotlight on Women in ATOAI’. AWC intends to help budding women entrepreneurs gain visibility in the industry and give them a platform for growth.
Arshdeep Anand, Co-Founder and CEO, Holiday Moods Adventures, Chairperson, ATOAI Women’s Collective and EC member, OTOAI, looks confident after her 25 years of journey in the adventure tourism sector.
“The industry has allowed me to discover many aspects of my personality. I learned to push my limits and try different adventures. Adventure tourism have given me wings to fly. Successful women entrepreneurs in travel and tourism are confident, enlightened and mindful; take calculated risks, hence do not hesitate to innovate.
They are purposeful and dedicated, so can control, supervise and lead their enterprises to achieve the desired goals, without sacrificing the quality,” she says.Speaking about her journey, she shares, “My husband and I started a business together. Before forming the team, we researched all aspects of business management ourselves. Today, travelling has become an experience and women have an edge here as they can empathize and perceive the requirements to create a holiday which is memorable for the travellers. During the various treks, I had the opportunity to discover the beauty of the Himalayas, the experience shaped my life and my work. The camps were very basic and the washrooms nonexistent. So, when we set up our campsite, we made sure we had
clean sheets and enough bathrooms for the women to be comfortable, and not being able to use the toilets was not
As a mother of two, she realized that children are less connected to nature. Therefore, she developed a strong interest in creating programmes for schoolchildren focused on adventure activities, as well as community service and learning skills for sustainability. She feels it is a way to return to the community by helping the environment, creating jobs for local communities and influencing young minds.
As a successful businesswoman, it is imperative to make sure you are properly respected and encouraged. Anand, an executive committee member of the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India, shares her experience of working with the association. “I have got strength and confidence as an entrepreneur working with the association,” she says, adding that, “women are very underrepresented and empowering women in the travel industry is very liberating.”
ATOAI Women’s Collective (AWC) was formed in June last year, “When the opportunity to start a women’s collective came my way, I grabbed it with both hands. I am very happy to share that ATOAI Women’s Collective has made huge strides in its first year. Empowered with a wonderful team and unstinting support from the office-bearers of ATOAI, today, AWC is well recognised,” she shares.
One of the objectives of ATOAI Women’s Collective is to recognise women who have inspiring journeys and are looked upon as role models. “We recently felicitated Professor Harshwanti Bisht for becoming the first woman president of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF). We had a great interaction with her and discussed ways to collaborate between IMF and WCC. We also requested her to include the issue of ‘Women’s Outdoor Safety’ in the curriculum of mountaineering courses,” she tells.
The collective also reached out to Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, and made a request to the Ministry of Tourism to start a helpline for the women in distress in the outdoors and also to promote homestay tourism.
As part of other activities, AWC organised a gender sensitisation workshop for the adventure travel industry with the goal of helping aspiring and ambitious entrepreneurs find a strong place in the industry. After a successful gender awareness workshop, AWC organised a photo contest, which was another attempt to focus on the adventures of women, entrepreneurs and people working in the travel and outdoor industries. The organisation also partnered with DDPL to launch the ‘Spotlight on Women in ATOAI’ series to focus and promote women.