Kristin Karst Named One of 2024 Most Influential Women in Travel

As 2024 unfolds, there continues to be a diverse array of complex challenges facing the world and the travel industry.

Women’s rights, racial justice, geo-political instability, and climate change all remain pressing top line issues the world over. And the travel industry, which accounts for 7.6 percent of the global GDP, must not only navigate these issues during day-to-day operations, but also do its part to think about the bigger picture and advance solutions.

The individuals who make up 2024’s list of the most influential women in travel have heard the call. And they are boldly leading the way.

This year’s winners are an incredibly diverse group, both in terms of their backgrounds and their individual missions.

Among the two dozen industry leaders selected by TravelPulse for 2024 you’ll find trailblazers who have dedicated themselves to a broad range of causes including: Meaningfully supporting small, women-owned businesses in destinations around the world; uplifting women in their travel industry careers, and empowering women to travel solo and do so boldly. Still other women on this list have established non-profit organizations focused on critically important missions such as transforming the way hotels connect with local communities.

Educating travelers about how to explore the world more thoughtfully and with a heightened awareness of their impact on host communities and the environment is also top of mind for leaders who make up this year’s group of winners, as is ensuring that non-binary individuals who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour), LGBTQ+, and/or disabled, have equal opportunities within the travel industry. And these are just some of the many areas and focuses being addressed by 2024’s fascinating group of leaders.

Bold. Visionary. Fearless. Those are the traits and characteristics of the women who make up 2024’s winners.

In honor of Women’s History Month, TravelPulse continues is annual tradition of shining a light on the most influential women in the travel industry today. Each of the 24 women chosen for 2024 was named by peers as a leader, change maker, and visionary.

At TravelPulse’s request, the women being honored shared a few insights about accomplishments that make them most proud and their goals for the future. Here’s what each winner had to say.
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One of the most Influential Women in Travel for 2024 is Kristin Karst, Co-Owner and Executive Vice President, AmaWaterways:

A native of Dresden, Germany, Kristin Karst has grown to be one of the leading executives in the river cruise industry.

In 2002, Karst co-founded AmaWaterways with Rudi Schreiner and Jimmy Murphy. Together, the trio have built 25 award-winning ships that sail rivers throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. Karst in particular has played a major role in shaping the company’s products and services.

Over the years she has received numerous accolades including being recognized as one of 2020’s Top 100 Female Founders by Inc. Magazine. Karst is known in the industry for her relentless passion and commitment to creating the best experience for travel advisors, group leaders, and guests.

Q.Please share some of your accomplishments as they relate to bringing about change in the travel industry.

Since co-founding AmaWaterways in 2002, my goals have included offering our guests the most enriching experiences and broadening the appeal of this beautiful, immersive style of vacation,” says Karst.

“I’m also a very active person, so starting in 2006, I decided that having bicycles on board for our guests to use would be a wonderful way to explore the quaint towns and villages we visited along the rivers,” continues Karst. “As the popularity of exploring on shore with bicycles grew, we added escorted biking and hiking tours as part of our included excursions. This soon earned us the reputation of being the river cruise line that best catered to active travelers of all ages!”

Q.What are your goals for the future – what would you still like to accomplish in your role or within the travel industry?

“Travel is a force for good in the world, and I am forever committed to innovating and enhancing the river cruising experience; introducing new elements that enrich the lives of our guests as well as contribute to the local communities we visit,” says Karst. “We live in a fast-paced world where virtual tools can certainly help us stay connected and tuned to new trends, but I believe the human connection is more important than ever.”

“Additionally, sustainability is the top and ever-present responsibility of every company in the travel industry. I am committed to fostering sustainable and responsible tourism practices,” says Karst. “The impact we have on the local communities is of utmost importance to me and I am proud of how we are taking the necessary time to ensure our new river cruise program on the Magdalena River in Colombia respects and celebrates the rich cultural experiences we will be offering our guests when we launch our first ship there in November. We have meaningful partnerships with schools in South Africa and Cambodia to support the next generations and provide annual financial assistance to the villages we visit in Namibia along the Chobe River.”

“Giving back will remain a central focus throughout my career, ensuring that our journey not only enriches the lives of our guests but leaves a positive and lasting impact on the destinations we touch.”

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