Women have been accomplishing amazing things in travel for decades, but International Women’s Day gives the opportunity to put a spotlight on them. One woman has started a not-for-profit to preserve and protect the environment and cultural heritage of one Caribbean Island. Another woman has made it her mission to increase the number of females in sailing. And there are plenty more stories of women in the travel world making a huge difference.
Sailing Regatta in St. Maarten
Michele Korteweg landed an internship with the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta – the largest warm weather sailing competition in the world – in 2008. Though only her first introduction to the marine industry at the time, she immediately fell in love with the event, the island of St. Maarten and the people who were involved. She eventually made a permanent move to St. Maarten from the Netherlands and worked full-time with the Heineken Regatta, which she describes as “the most exciting event I’ve ever participated in.” Having organized her 11th Heineken Regatta in March 2023, Michele set out on a mission this year to recognize incredible women in sailing.
“Only 2% of people active in the marine industry are female,” says Korteweg. “Yet I’ve noticed when it comes to sailing events and programs in the Caribbean, there are many women involved who provide an excellent example of how it can and should be.” She notes that most sailing programs and trade businesses in the Caribbean are managed by women, and most of the big international Caribbean Regattas, like Antigua Sailing Week and BVI Spring Regatta and the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, are managed mainly by women. “Through my company Shortcut 2 Success, I will push to further develop the marine industry by establishing trade events, workshops and hosting conferences and trainings to promote women in the sector.”