Tourism’s Dirty Secret: the Exploitation of Hotel Housekeepers

by Oxfam Canada | October 13, 2017

Worldwide, the stories are the same. In the Dominican Republic, 50-year-old hotel housekeeper Cristina cleans 16 rooms a day and tidies 90 more. It’s still not enough for a living wage: she works a second job to make ends meet. Faced with meagre pay for long hours, a housekeeper in Thailand had to send her children home to live with family in Myanmar. A housekeeper in Toronto now wears a wrist brace permanently because of an injury her employer refused to make accommodation for. Back in the Dominican Republic, one housekeeper was hospitalized because of long term exposure to toxic cleaning products. 

All over the world gender inequality is hard at work and women are being shortchanged.  

While tourism is booming and generates millions of jobs for women around the world, the hotel industry exemplifies the vast inequality of today’s world. The women who make hotel beds and clean hotel toilets labour long hours for meager pay, face sexual harassment and intimidation, are exposed daily to toxic chemicals and live in fear of arbitrary dismissal. Meanwhile, the top earning hotel CEOs can earn more in an hour than some housekeepers do in a year. Such systematic exploitation is not inevitable. The hotel industry, consumers and governments must all be part of the solution to end the economic exploitation of women.

Oxfam Canada

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