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Awards for Accor Brazil and a tour operator to Mongolia as Gender Equality Champions

Dr Stroma Cole presents the award

The Gender Equality Champion of the Year Award was presented for the second time this year

Each year gender equality is becoming a more important topic at ITB Berlin. On Wednesday afternoon the Gender Equality Champion of the Year Award, jointly supported by ITB Berlin, was presented for the second time at this event. Last year’s winner was the tour operator Travel Excellence from Costa Rica and this year the prize was awarded to two companies, which were introduced on the Hybrid Stage at ITB Berlin on Wednesday afternoon.

The award in the Hotel sector went to the Brazilian subsidiary of the Accor group, which reacted quickly during the coronavirus pandemic. With hotels closed and a sharp rise in domestic violence, especially against women and children, the decision was made in Brazil to launch the Embrace project. Brazilian Accor Hotels made hotel rooms available to the victims of domestic violence and worked together with specialist organisations to offer psychological, social and legal support to women.

“Partnerships are very important when setting up and implementing a project of this kind”, said Magda Kiehl, who received the award on behalf of Accor Brazil. She explained that the hotel group had already provided over 6,000 overnight stays for those suffering social deprivation, and had also decided to continue the project on a long term basis after the coronavirus epidemic. Work is also currently in progress with Accor subsidiaries in Chile and Mexico in order to establish a similar programme in those countries. Dr. Stroma Cole, who lectures at the University of Westminster and heads the Equality in Tourism organisation, chaired the awards ceremony and expressed her enthusiasm for this programme. She emphasised that sustainability is inconceivable without gender equality.

The other recipient of an award was Jessica Brooks of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia. “A very small business that is achieving absolutely wonderful things“, Dr. Cole commented admiringly, and pointed out that the educational services offered free of charge by this tour operator would benefit women from marginalised communities in Mongolia. Climate change is having a particularly severe impact on such women, who now have opportunities for personal development with subsequent employment prospects, for example as travel guides. This programme was originally introduced in 2010. “One has to overcome one’s fears and genuinely believe in what one is doing", explained prize winner Jessica Brooks, who plans to continue developing this programme in future years.

The Gender Equality Champion of the Year Award is also set to expand and the intention is to invite entries in three categories next year at ITB Berlin.