Travel Talk: Rosa Harris on female travel in The Cayman Islands

Rosa Harris, Director of Tourism for The Cayman Islands talks to Selling Travel about the importance of female travel ahead of International Women's Day

What exactly is “female travel”, and why is it important that Travel Agents are prepared to sell it?

Forbes reported last year that ‘Female Travel’ was booming and we see the boom in two ways – the
number of solo female travellers is increasing, but women are also looking for female-led tours, retreats and adventures either because they feel more comfortable from a safety perspective, or they want to empower and support women in the travel industry.

It is important for travel agents, tourist boards, hoteliers and experience-led tour organisers to recognise the importance of the women traveller as women make up 64% of all travellers. Ignoring this demographic is not an option. To maximise the opportunity that female-led travel presents the industry must adapt to accommodate the needs and wants of women travellers.

What are female travellers looking for? What is most important to them and what sets them apart as a demographic?

Our research shows that women tend to be the primary decision makers when it comes to travel
whether travelling solo or with friends or family.

Despite this, women are disproportionately represented in tour leading and tour operator ownership.
We know there are a few tour operators who are concentrating on women only tours including Tour
Radar and Intrepid, and we’ve identified this as an important part of our trade communications for

I don’t think we can generalise women when it comes to their holiday requirements as individual desires tend to be unique. Some might just want to relax with a book by the pool while others want five-star dining and luxury shopping or a wellness/spa retreat. Women can also be just as adventurous as men and enjoy experiences like rock climbing, kite surfing or scuba diving. Regardless of your holiday requirements they can find the perfect holiday on Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac or Little Cayman.

How can travel agents support females who may be concerned about safety while travelling?

As the first point of contact for booking the travel agent is the first line of support for women who are concerned about safety while travelling. If the agent has extensive knowledge of a destination they are able to provide travellers with recommendations for accommodations, attractions and dining that are safe so a traveller feels confident and comfortable and are equipped with all the information they need to ensure they feel secure.

The Cayman Islands is often listed as one of the safest islands in the Caribbean and that security is
important for our guests. When families visit, the parents can enjoy lounging on the beach knowing their kids can happily play at the water’s edge. Solo travellers are quick to meet locals and win friends during their stay.

On the trade side we offer travel industry training to equip travel agents to answer any questions or
allay any concerns that women may have about travelling to our islands. Where possible, having a contact on the ground that you can reach by phone can really make a difference in making a traveller feel like there is ‘back up’ in the very unlikely event of an issue. The UK government also provides advice for women travelling abroad including organisations that can help on their website – so this can provide a useful reference point.

How can the travel industry support women, both clients and travel professionals, to thrive and overcome adversity in 2024?

I believe we should all be championing women whether it be in travel or otherwise. To put it simply
travellers and agents should be adding female owned businesses and tours to their rosters and
celebrating both women-led and unique cultural experiences.

In the Cayman Islands we have several female entrepreneurs working in the tourism space who create and curate experiences that attract women travellers. A standout taxi and tour operator is Paula Swaby of Brown Sugar Taxi Tours, a Caymanian entrepreneur, she is proud to showcase her home to visitors.

In the wellness space, Melissa Quinn of One Heart Yoga studio has created an oasis where female
travellers can renew with yoga, sound healing and meditation. In watersports, Kiristen Cousins of Vitamin Sea offers unique paddleboard adventures including paddleboard yoga.

Lydia Jackman of Powder Monkey, a local gourmet treats company known for their elaborate themed dining experiences with a Caribbean twist. Our National Museum also offers traditional cooking and craft classes  allowing travellers to learn from women who are experts at what they do.