Celebrating the female leaders of travel

Cynthia Peng
·4-min read
Photo credit: Steve Passmore
Photo credit: Steve Passmore

From Town & Country

As we near summer, and with the growing numbers of vaccine roll-outs, we are all thinking about the possibility of travelling abroad for a much-needed post-pandemic retreat. In light of how difficult the past year has been for the travel industry, we want to celebrate the women who have spearheaded the sector, not only keeping the industry afloat, but pushing the boundaries of innovation and development.

Photo credit: Lucy Huxley
Photo credit: Lucy Huxley

Lucy Huxley

As editor-in-chief of the Travel Weekly Group (including Travel Weekly, Travel Weekly Business, Travolution, Aspire, the Globes and the AAAs) Lucy Huxley lives and breathes travel. She is the leader for news, communication and analysis in the trade industry and has hosted regular informative webinars during the pandemic to keep everyone in the know about the ever-changing travel landscape.

Photo credit: Lynn Narraway
Photo credit: Lynn Narraway

Lynn Narraway

Appointed the managing director UK and Ireland, Seabourn and Holland America Line in 2011, Lynn Narraway has since worked tirelessly to promote and grow cruise this side of the pond. Based in Southhampton, Narraway has been committed to offering the very highest levels of customer support even while trips were not possible, and has shared the good news that Seabourn will be offering cruises onboard its newest vessel, Seabourn Ovation, from the Greek islands this summer.

Photo credit: Sally Cowdry
Photo credit: Sally Cowdry

Sally Cowdry

Sally Cowdry is the managing director of Travelopia, whose illustrious portfolio includes the Italy specialist Citalia and the luxury operator Sovereign. Despite the challenges of the past year, Cowdry has just announced that the Sovereign will now offer a wider range of five-star luxury resorts in the Indian Ocean and Caribbean destinations, with Thailand being added as a new destination for the brand.

Photo credit: Janet Parton
Photo credit: Janet Parton

Janet Parton

With more than 20 years’ experience working in the travel industry, Jane Parton is now the sales and marketing director at Cosmos, where she has spent the past 12 months looking at new ways for travellers to curate their post-pandemic trips. Starting later this year, Choice Touring by Globus (the parent company of Cosmos) features 13 new itineraries in the UK, Europe and North America where customers can pick and choose excursions to tailor-make their tour.

Photo credit: Lisa Fitzell
Photo credit: Lisa Fitzell

Lisa Fitzell

The managing director of Elegant Resorts since 2018, Lisa Fitzell has helped the company respond to the challenges of the pandemic by working closely with their loyal clients. Following a customer poll last July, named the Future of Travel, the luxury-tour operator introduced a new collection dedicated to holidays in the UK and Ireland designed to inspire people to rediscover their homeland. Elegant Resorts is also increasing its presence in the wellbeing sector and more eco-friendly properties are being added to its portfolio.

Photo credit: Lesley Rollo
Photo credit: Lesley Rollo

Lesley Rollo

Lesley Rollo is the managing director of the booking agent Travelbag, tasked with leading its expansion strategy and preparing for the post-pandemic travel boom. The company's long-haul adventures have continued to inspire people to book bucket-list trips for when borders reopen all across the globe. And with rules and regulations in a constant state of flux, the company ensures the financial security of bookings with ABTA, IATA and ATOL bonding, so that people can feel confident planning dream holidays again.

Photo credit: Katie McAlister
Photo credit: Katie McAlister

Katie McAlister

In June 2018, Katie McAlister was appointed the chief marketing officer and board member for TUI UK & Ireland, before her role was extended in September 2020, making her responsible for brand strategy and digital for the entire TUI Group. In response to the pandemic, TUI now acts quickly on monthly customer surveys, which has given the brand a far better understanding of travellers’ motivations and needs, and what they need to feel safe to book. The company also accelerate plans to move customers online (at the time when stores were closed) while still allowing them to access the expertise the needed to plan a holiday.

Photo credit: Wendy Atkin-Smith
Photo credit: Wendy Atkin-Smith

Wendy Atkin-Smith

Viking Cruises’ UK managing director Wendy Atkin-Smith heads up a team of 80 people across all departments. She fell in love with river cruising on the Rhine 25 years ago and has been a passionate advocate for the industry ever since, recently being named the
godmother of the line’s new Longship Viking Sigrun. She always thinks outside the box and by innovating, Viking remains at the forefront of the cruise industry.

Photo credit: Tolene Van der Merve
Photo credit: Tolene Van der Merve

Tolene Van der Merwe

Tolene Van der Merwe is the UK and Ireland director for the Malta Tourism Authority, and is leading the London-based team to develop greater partnerships with the operators, airlines, travel agents and specialists in the trade. This summer, Malta will be available to British holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 from 1 June, with Van der Merwe saying: “The people of Malta are looking forward to tourists returning who have loved our sunshine, culture, food and warm spirit year in year out.”