Andrew J. Wein - Nov 30, 2009
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Erin Maitland, a former Australian tour-guide has developed a unique idea to start a company offering holidays designed for women only. However, her application was turned down by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on the grounds of violating the Equal Opportunities rights.




Women travelers have been becoming a major part of the tourist industry and numerous tour operators realize the value of offering women-oriented travel deals and packages. Women simply wish to take a break from their family lives and have as much right to do so as their husbands. A recent legal case has divided Australia and a major argument has arisen regarding how far tour operators can go in terms of targeting one gender.


After talking to many women, the former tour guide, Erin Maitland, decided to start her own travel business ‘Travel Sisters’ in Melbourne, Australia. She felt it was time to target the female market exclusively. In her opinion, there are thousands of women who simply refuse to go on mixed-group holidays. Their motifs may be religious, personal – very often they had had traumatic experiences which involved domestic violence, or simply refuse to be approached by men or even face some offensive remarks. Apparently, bed-hopping and booze is a frequent motif of many men to actually join a trip, according to the asked women.


Ms. Maitland believes her company would help women take some valuable time-off without having to worry about, well, anything. She wishes to design her tours to suit typical female interests. Many women are keen to go on such a trip and as Ms. Maitland believes, even their husbands or partners can feel ‘safer’ with no competition around.


However, according to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Erin Maitland lacks sufficient evidence to show it is necessary to ban men from traveling with her company, and thus violates the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. Erin and hundreds of women are very disappointed by the court’s ruling, however, if enough evidence is produced in the future, an exemption may yet be granted.








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  1. Founder Wild Women Expeditions

    My goodness: perhaps the Victoria agency can lighten up! There is such a thing as affirmative action which provides for exemptions... and an all-women travel company is a natural extension of offerring a few women-only trips. Its called niche marketing and it is what a solid sub-section of female travellers want.

    hang in there Erin!

  2. Please stop this political correctness bull

    Wonder when living in a partnership will become illegal because someone is being deprived from living with my partner on equal opportunity grounds?
    Where does this BS stop?

  3. Incredible

    I can't believe this could happen in the modern developed world. There are hundreds of tour operators providing women-only holidays and tours successfully all around the world. There must be some funny little legal trick in the australian laws to allow such decision. I hope Erin will make it in the next round.

  4. Political correctness gone mad!

    I'm also a professional tourist guide, in Scotland, and have worked for "women only" groups, most notably from Norway.

    Equally, I've worked with "boys only" groups - also lots from Norway - and I know which are the easiest to cope with and which are the most fun! The women win every time.

    Hang in there Erin - and tell your Victorian agency that they are not in the Victorian era, they should allow market forces to decide what's right and what isn't. They need to get a life!

    (United Kingdom)
  5. Vice President

    This is ridiculous, we are speaking of specialized tours, can be for either women or men, lesbians, seniors etc. I would have thought that Australia, being a young country, would be more tolerant. Are there no private woman/mens clubs in Australia either?

    We have been running successfully ladies programs for American agents. There are many woman who feel more conformable traveling with their own sex only, even mothers who wish to get away for a break from the family, and their husbands not minding as they are all women.

  6. Ladies Only tours for 18 years!

    I have for 18 years had my company JOMFRU REISER (ladies only) in Norway. We arrange approx 100 different tours for Ladies Only each year. We started with 1 cosutmer and have now 15.000! One man (of course!) checked with The Equality and Discrimination department in Norway and we got green light! And Scandinavia is the top countries for gender equality.
    We started our business also in Sweden this year.
    GOOD LUCK! Don't let them stop you!!

  7. Ridiculous

    I have heard that the Aussies can be very rigid... but this is ridiculous. What about the freedom of choice for women, the choice to travel with a 'women only' tour operator! Erin, I do hope you manage to change their minds!
    Or maybe you can include a clause that gay men are allowed to travel with this tour operator, as they may not feel comfortable travelling with a macho all male group?

    (South Africa)

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