Travel Agent NewsMeet Trafalgar president for Asia, Mae Cheah, who's committed to empowering the next generation of women in travel from globe-spanning tours to the corporate workplace.

The power of women in travel

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“Speaking as a woman myself, I’m very aware of what I do when I travel — who do I give my business to and whether women are being exploited,” says Mae Cheah, president, Asia, Trafalgar.
“Speaking as a woman myself, I’m very aware of what I do when I travel — who do I give my business to and whether women are being exploited,” says Mae Cheah, president, Asia, Trafalgar. Photo Credit: Trafalgar

Stepping into 2022, Mae Cheah, president of Trafalgar Travel in Asia, started embarking on a project to bring women-only tours into Trafalgar’s range of offerings following the mindset shift of many female travellers, including her own, in the wake of the pandemic.

In less than a span of a month, Cheah and her team curated a series of new, meaningful itineraries for women travellers, led by female travel directors and wellbeing directors with trips centred around showcasing inspiring local businesswomen in different destinations.

Women start living their best lives

The travel industry has benefited from over hundreds of billions of dollars spent by women travellers.
The travel industry has benefited from over hundreds of billions of dollars spent by women travellers. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Tomwang112

As a savvy, influential and independent female traveller herself, Cheah was aware that women consumers are driving the world travel economy. This observation has also been made by Forbes, which published a study revealing that women make at least 80% of all purchasing decisions and contribute hundreds of billions to the travel and tourism industry.

With more independent purchasing power and their overall growing mindset to ‘live their best lives’, the rapidly emerging female market has been fuelling significant growth within the travel sector since the most recent years.

Cheah pointed out in good humour that over the years of working in the travel sector and conversing with different travellers, many husbands have told her that they rely on their wives to make travel decisions.

But when a woman’s travel partner, such as her husband, is indisposed to travelling during certain periods, what’s a woman to do? Many are now taking charge and venturing out into the world on their own.

Of the women, by the women, for the women

Trafalgar’s women-only tours seek to provide women of all generations a space to connect with like-minded female travellers.
Trafalgar’s women-only tours seek to provide women of all generations a space to connect with like-minded female travellers. Photo Credit: Trafalgar

“A lot of times, we [women] are ready to travel and want to travel without having to wait for our partners,” Cheah said. “Trafalgar has guests from everywhere, like-minded travellers who just want to go out there and enjoy the world but also in the comfort and safety of a group.”

Trafalgar's new women-only tour programme currently comprises a collection of 14 trips across Europe, Middle East and Africa, with five of these being offered to female travellers from Singapore via the vaccinated travel lane scheme.

These tours have been specially curated to provide women travellers of all ages and from all walks of life a safe space to go behind closed doors and learn about customs, cuisine, challenges, inspirational breakthroughs, and the resilience embodied by other women across the varying destinations.

Not only are these tours specially put together by an all-women team in Trafalgar, that feminine touch even extends to the travel directors leading the tour, some who have served with the company for over 40 years, and wellbeing directors who oversee the safety and hygiene measures throughout the journey.

Empowering women across the globe

Trafalgar aims to capture the zeitgeist of modern women looking to travel with other women and empowering female lives all around the world.
Trafalgar aims to capture the zeitgeist of modern women looking to travel with other women and empowering female lives all around the world. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Sushiman

Women only travel not only empowers female travellers, the positive effects will also resonate throughout the globe and the many female lives that these tours touch. In addition to rising to both the demand and opportunity of the female travel market, Trafalgar aims to “raise awareness and help empower women in those countries that we’re visiting”.

According to Cheah, Trafalgar’s travel partners are welcoming its women only tours with open arms as they “get a lot of inquiries from ladies on travelling together” and it further serves to drive social tourism as these tours “support local businesses run by women and gives back to the community that we are visiting”.

“For example, in our Jordan itinerary where we visit Iraq Al Amir, there’s a women’s collective — these are artisans specialising in handicrafts like soaps made out of olive oil which they sell to support their families,” Cheah expounded. “When we visit them, we get hands-on experience on learning certain crafts, but also through that visit it also helps support the ladies over there.”

Other woman-to-woman experiential journeys one can find in Trafalgar’s itineraries include learning about the ancient art of Umbrian weaving from Marta Cucchia, a fourth-generation weaver and one of the last in Italy trained in this art form, and baking bread with one of Turkey’s most progressive women communities in the rural, farming village on the Kozak Plateau.

Women care a lot about other women, no matter which part of the world they’re located in, Cheah opined. “Trafalgar and The Travel Corporation really do support women in leadership, they support women’s growth, and we also want to raise awareness of women entrepreneurs in our products. That’s why we make travel matter in the places we choose to visit.”

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