International Women's Day 2024 - Inspire Inclusion

Posted: 7 March 2024

International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements and also seeks to create a world that is inclusive and encourages collective action to drive gender parity. The theme of 2024 International Women’s Day is Inspire Inclusion, which highlights discrimination that is still prevalent and promotes a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke with AAT Kings Travel Director Delma Coulson, who for the past nine years has been expertly guiding our guests around Australia. She is nominated for the 2024 Facet Golden Guide award due to her dedication and passion for going above and beyond.

 How did you get started in the travel industry and when did you start with AAT Kings?

I worked in the emergency ward, for three years in Broome Hospital. After I finished at the hospital I went travelling overseas, where I learned more about tour guiding. I applied for a heavy vehicle (HR) licence, learning how to drive on my brother’s farm, where there was a lot of bunny hopping. I never gave up and passed the test on my third attempt. I applied and was offered the role as a Driver Guide in the Red Centre for AAT Kings. I remember the first time I was driving to the Uluru sunset viewing area, there was one more parking space left with just a quarter of a meter on either side of the coach and with people around, watching, I was thinking about asking one of the male drivers to park the coach for me. But I told myself, “No, I can do this.” I parked perfectly, proving to myself and my team members that I was great at this job. Looking back, I was brave to move to the Red Centre by myself and live there for thirteen months, which is a long stint for the Red Centre. I was then offered a promotion as a Travel Director in 2015, and I’ve worked as one ever since. Now I travel all around Australia, showing people this beautiful country.

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 How do you inspire inclusion for different types of female travellers on tour?

Female solo travellers can be nervous, especially when travelling on their own for the first time. Whether it’s losing their partner or wanting to gain new experiences, there are many different reasons why they travel solo. I can feel their apprehension at first, but they become more comfortable as the tour goes on. On the first night of the tour if there are female solo travellers I’ll say, “I'm going to be in the lobby at 6 O'clock. I'm just going to go to a local place and have something simple to eat if anyone wants to join me.”  As the tour goes on, they’ll gravitate to like-minded people, and you can see them all forming their little groups. Tours are a fabulous way when travelling solo to meet new people. You don’t have to worry about the logistics, such as organising your own accommodation, experiences, transport or itinerary.

 What advice would you give to female travellers who are thinking about travelling solo?

As a Travel Director I see so many female solo travellers on tour. You won’t be the only one. There's a fabulous big world out there and there's so much to see and do. If you’re thinking about travelling solo on a tour, don’t hesitate, just put your name down and come join us.

 How do you inspire inclusion for different types of travellers?

On the first day of the tour when meeting all the guests I make sure to ask them if they require any special or additional requirements, whether it’s dietary or if they have visual or hearing impairments. For guests who are hearing impaired, I’ll print out my commentary for them so they can read it during the tour and again I’ll also use more visual elements. For guests who are visually impaired I use more descriptive language when explaining history, places, or people. I will also let them know how many steps there are on the coach, as well as how far we’ll be walking.

 What are some of your favourite experiences on tour that Inspire Inclusion?

On the Wonders of the Kimberley tour we visit a local art gallery in Halls Creek. Here, Indigenous artists are able to practice their art in various mediums and styles around subjects ranging from people, history, the country, their connection to nature and as an expression of their culture. Not only are they able to practice, they are also able to showcase their art and sell it to people all around the world. There are many female Indigenous artists that practice and produce their art here and I love taking our guests to see their beautiful work.

 What has been some highlights from your career?

We have a conference once a year, Australia one year and New Zealand the next. In 2016, I was given an award for the highest Net Promoter Score (NPS) for a first year Travel Director. Then, in 2019, I received an award for Outstanding Achievement.

 Other than travelling what are you passionate about?

Every year I volunteer a couple of days during Christmas time for the Salvation Army and another organisation called the Crew. Depending on the day, I will distribute hampers, wrap presents and talk with those who are less fortunate and listen to their stories.

 Are there any women who you personally look up to?

I look up to Fiona Wood, a world-renowned surgeon and leading burns specialist who helped many people who were affected by the Bali bombings. She also helped develop the revolutionary spray-on skin repair technique, which helps speed the rate of recovery and reduce scarring for burn patients. I often listen to her podcast. She’s such just a beautiful and humble woman.

Books that Delma recommends about women who inspire her:

  • Diamond & Dust by Sheryl McCorry
  • In the Middle of Nowhere by Terry Underwood
  • Desert Flower by Waris Dirie
  • Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

 What has been your greatest accomplishment?

I was married to the most beautiful man in the world. My late husband always said to go out there and do what makes you happy. To follow your dreams and I’ll always be with you. Throughout the years I’ve had the most amazing adventure and recently my son, who’s in his 30s said, “Mum, Dad would be proud of us.”

By AAT Kings


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International Women's Day 2024 - Inspire Inclusion



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