Home/Magazine /All/ Leadership In Times Of Crisis: A Look At The Travel And Tourism Industry | Halal In Travel Global Summit 2023

Leadership in Times of Crisis: A Look at the Travel and Tourism Industry | Halal In Travel Global Summit 2023

Jul 2023

The Halal In Travel Global Summit 2023 provided a platform for key players in the travel and tourism industry to delve into the pressing topic of leadership during times of crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the entire sector, forcing leaders to adapt and make critical decisions to navigate the storm. Rashid Toefy (Deputy Director General of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in Cape Town, South Africa) moderated the panel, comprising Sumaira Isaacs (General Manager of Gulf Dunes, Middle East), Anita Mendiratta (Special Advisor to Secretary General UNWTO), and Dr. Barkathunnisha (Co-Founder of World Women Tourism).

Crisis as a Catalyst for Change

The panel acknowledged the transformative power of crises in shaping society and economies throughout history. From the Great Depression to the recent financial crises, each challenge has presented an opportunity for positive change. As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the travel and tourism industry, it brought to the fore the crucial role of leadership in guiding organizations through unprecedented adversity.

One of the central themes of the panel discussion was the competencies required of leaders during times of crisis. Anita Mendiratta emphasized the importance of leadership capabilities that go beyond business acumen. Crisis situations expose individual and systemic weaknesses, necessitating leaders who can make decisions based on the context and exhibit qualities such as sense-making, intuition, and improvisation.

Sumaira Isaacs shared her experience during the pandemic, highlighting the need for leaders to embrace innovation and adaptability. She emphasized the significance of transforming organizations to meet new challenges, particularly in a world where virtual and hybrid approaches have become integral to operations.

Context Matters: Leadership Styles in Different Environments

The panel explored how contextual factors, such as the type of governance, can influence leadership during a crisis. Toefy drew attention to the different responses of governments across the globe, with more democratic societies often being more transparent and trusted in their decision-making. In contrast, the politicization of the pandemic created additional challenges for leaders.

Dr. Barkathunnisha discussed her experience in Singapore, a country known for its efficient crisis management and governance. She highlighted how safety and sustainability emerged as crucial factors in the industry's recovery, with a focus on staff members' emotional and mental well-being. She emphasized the importance of empathy and compassion in leadership, especially during challenging times. She spoke of how leaders, regardless of gender, can adopt a human-centric approach to guide their teams through crises. This trait, often associated with feminine leadership qualities, can build trust and foster employee resilience.

The Rise of Muslim Travelers: Adapting to the Post-COVID Era

The discussion also delved into the burgeoning segment of Muslim travelers and their significance in the industry's recovery. The panelists recognized the importance of understanding and catering to the needs of Muslim travelers, particularly as travel is seen as a means of healing from the crisis.

As the panel concluded, it was evident that the COVID-19 pandemic had significantly impacted the travel and tourism industry. Yet, it also provided valuable insights for leaders to shape a more resilient and inclusive future. The industry can emerge stronger from the crisis by embracing innovation, prioritizing safety and well-being, and demonstrating empathy in leadership.


The Halal In Travel Global Summit 2023 offered a compelling discussion on leadership during times of crisis, drawing on the experiences and perspectives of esteemed industry leaders. Context, adaptability, and compassion were emphasized in guiding organizations through turbulent times. With valuable lessons learned from the pandemic, the travel and tourism sector is poised to emerge as a more resilient and customer-centric industry in the post-COVID era.

More information and sessions of Halal In Travel Global Summit 2023 are available through this link!

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