A travel industry think tank has unveiled plans to help women worldwide further their careers in tourism.

Alessandra Alonso, joint managing director of personal and professional development specialist Shine People and Places, attended a debate held for World Tourism Day 2007, last week, on this year’s theme of Tourism Opening Doors for Women.

She joined a 20-strong panel in Sri Lanka to discuss ways to improve women’s roles in tourism, particularly in developing countries, in front of an audience of up to 100 local travel industry delegates.

The think tank, initiated by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation, concluded a need to establish a network of ambassadors, a taskforce to develop women’s roles in tourism globally, to expand the website tourismgender.com into a information portal, and launch awareness campaigns aimed at the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, governments, media and women themselves.

Alonso said the panel agreed to collect information and statistics on women working in the industry worldwide, from pay to career progression. “It’s important to collect data. How can you address the needs if you don’t know where you are starting from?”