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International Institute for Peace through Tourism | India

5th Celebrating Her awards at ITB Berlin 2021

IIPT India honours 3 exceptional women

IIPT’s 5th annual international “Celebrating Her” awards for exceptional women in travel & tourism were celebrated virtually at the ITB Berlin NOW Convention on Tue 09 March. The long-awaited ceremony also included a photo montage of the 20 previous winners – a virtual powerhouse of who’s who in the world of international travel and tourism.

The three winners this year were selected by an eminent international jury and were scheduled to get the awards in person at ITB Berlin 2020 which, unfortunately, had to be cancelled on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The award winners for 2020-21 are:

Petra Hedorfer – CEO of the German National Tourism Board for “Tourism Leadership”

Sonal Asgotraa – Program Lead of Astrostays for “Community Development Through Tourism”

Natalia Bayona – Director, Innovation, Education and Investments UNWTO for “Innovation & the Empowerment of Women Through Tourism”

Anita Mendiratta, Special Advisor to the UNWTO Secretary General and IIPT’s Global Ambassador for International Relations conducted the awards ceremony with her usual panache. Following sharing of a message of appreciation from the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, to the IIPT for continuing to spotlight the vital role of women in the global Tourism sector, Anita welcomed to the virtual stage Rika Jean-Francois – ITB Berlin’s Commissioner for CSR, Ajay Prakash – President of IIPT India and Executive VP IIPT International, Dr. Louis D’Amore – Founding President of IIPT and Dr. Taleb Rifai – Chairman of the IIPT Advisory Board.

In her opening remarks, Rika Jean-Francois recounted the journey of the “Celebrating Her” awards from the inception in 2016 and said that she hoped we would all meet again in person at ITB 2022 since the Awards were a very important part of ITB Berlin.

In his introductory remarks, Ajay Prakash said “The Celebrating Her awards are a tribute to exceptional women in tourism – an initiative to applaud, felicitate and hold them up as role models for the younger generation. While women account for over 65% of the workforce in travel & tourism, barely 20% of them are in positions of authority. This needs to change and change rapidly for tourism to fulfil its higher paradigm – to make the word a better place.”

Dr. Taleb Rifai, a supporter and advocate of the “Celebrating Her” awards from the time he was UNWTO Secretary General, congratulated IIPT India and ITB Berlin for continuing the Awards and said that the world needed more women to step up and assume leadership roles.

Dr. Louis D’Amore recounted that IIPT had always been an advocate of woman leadership and that Her Excellency Vigdis Finnbogadottir, President of Iceland had been the Honorary Chair of IIPT’s first global Conference in 1988 and Her Excellency Queen Noor of Jordan the Honorary Chair of the second. He congratulated the winners and said “Women such as yourselves are increasingly models of leadership in the travel industry.”

In their acceptance speeches, the three award winners overtly stated their pride in receiving this prestigious award, particularly at this time when women play such a critical role in the recovery of our essential sector, thanking IIPT and ITB Berlin for the recognition.

Kiran Yadav, Vice President IIPT India delivered the Vote of Thanks.