By John Tanzella, IGLTA President/CEO, iglta@iglta.org

So much of what we do at IGLTA and the IGLTA Foundation is built on the future. Our mission to expand LGBTQ+ tourism globally means that we’re always looking ahead, laying the groundwork for businesses and communities to grow sustainably and inclusively.

And now is a uniquely good time to reinvest in the future based on revelations learned through the COVID-19 pandemic. At our 2022 Global Convention in Milan opening session, the IGLTA Foundation released a powerful report that revealed priorities of travel consumers right now. Its best long-term practices.

The report, titled “Going Further: How to Make LGBTQ+ Travel Transformational for Travelers, Communities and the Planet,” found that travelers are paying more attention to the impact of business on their local communities, economy, and the environment. It also recommends steps we can all take for positive action in the years ahead.

The topline discoveries in “Going Further” are very human. Research about the pandemic’s effect reflected what we instinctively know: in-person interactions are vitally important, and life’s meaning is diminished when we’re unable to travel and spend time together. For many LGBTQ+ community members in particular, the pandemic led to social isolation, disrupted health services, significant financial difficulties, and exposure to prejudiced environments during lockdowns. These hardships underscore some of our community’s most urgent areas of improvement.

But the pandemic is not without a silver lining, because it led many of us to find renewed resilience and compassion. And with the world now reopening, we can use our life-changing experiences to re-engage with what our true purpose and aims really are—both personally and professionally, locally and globally.

In business, that means taking extra steps to restore jobs and reinvigorate our industry conscientiously. Consider the report’s key findings that now more than ever LGBTQ+ travelers prioritize environmental impact, social issues, and personal growth. Positive action in those areas may include broadened diversity, equality, and inclusion practices for employees and clients. It may include better carbon literacy, with specific sustainability strategies. It may include building alliances and events with LGBTQ+ causes in your local community. (Check out more specific ways to spark positive actions in the report’s five detailed steps.)

Beyond the big-picture thinking, we know that meaningful change is a gradual process that’s rooted in day-to-day practice. That’s a big reason why we consider travel an agent of change around the world, whether it’s in emerging or established destinations. For LGBTQ+ communities everywhere, daily visibility and social connection are core elements. So as you navigate the near and long-term future of our industry, remember that the regenerative force of travel drives transformation, and today’s investments are tomorrow’s successes.

Pictured above: Peter Jordan, Founder of Gen C Traveller, presenting the IGLTA Foundation report at our Global Convention in Milan | Photo credit: @Markmorinii