Fort Lauderdale, FL (9 March 2017)—The IGLTA Foundation recently selected the recipients for its fifth annual Building Bridges Scholarships, who will receive an all-expenses-paid trip and conference registration for the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s Annual Global Convention in St. Petersburg, Florida, 4-6 May.

The program was created to support the next generation of LGBTQ+ travel professionals (and allies). Scholarships are awarded to small travel business owners in emerging markets and university students pursuing careers in the tourism industry.

“IGLTA’s Building Bridges Scholarship program is a cornerstone initiative of the Foundation’s work, as we look to developing deserving and passionate individuals focused on promoting LGBT tourism,” said Gary Murakami, CMP, CMM, Chair, IGLTA Foundation Board of Directors. “We are delighted to provide the opportunity for these deserving individuals who will shape the minds and hearts of the global community from the connections and education they will receive from attending the convention.”

Meet this year’s Building Bridges Scholarship recipients:

Small Business Owner: Michael Gladwin, Edenvale, South Africa. As the founder of the new 7th Element LGBT Travel, an agency near Johannesburg, Gladwin hopes to build a business for South Africa’s “amazing LGBT community.”

“Our local LGBT communities are starved for a direct, targeted approach to travel,” Gladwin said. “Being at the bottom of the tip of Africa, we aren't easily exposed to the markets that I need to target – and it is often very expensive for us to do so. So the experience at the convention is bound to open many valuable doors that will help me put the South African LGBT market and travel opportunities on the map.”

Student: John Sakakini, Washington, D.C. The MBA student in marketing and tourism/hospitality administration at The George Washington University has served as president of the campus LGBT organization Out for Business and will begin a career in the airline industry when he graduates in May.

“The conference will really give me the ability to network with other members of the LGBT community working in tourism and to see ways that the community and the tourism industry are moving forward, helping to promote to the LGBT consumer and also to enhance the industry as a whole,” Sakakini said.

Scholarship recipients participate in the entire three-day convention program, ensuring they will have the opportunity to network with travel industry leaders from around the world, receive mentorship from professionals in their areas of interest and attend educational sessions. The IGLTA Foundation also supports convention registration for hospitality students in/near each year’s host city.

The IGLTA Foundation thanks Platinum Global Partner Delta Air Lines for generously providing the round-trip flights to St. Petersburg for the 2017 scholarship recipients. For more information, please visit

About IGLTA & the IGLTA Foundation

IGLTA, the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association is the leading member-based global organization dedicated to LGBT tourism and a proud Affiliate Member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. IGLTA’s mission is to provide information and resources for LGBT travelers and expand LGBT tourism globally by demonstrating its significant social and economic impact. The association’s membership includes LGBT and LGBT-friendly accommodations, destinations, service providers, travel agents, tour operators, events and travel media in 70 countries In 2012, the philanthropic IGLTA Foundation was launched to support the mission of the association and its membership through education, research and leadership development. For more information, please visit or and follow us on social media @IGLTA or the IGLTA Foundation Facebook page.