TORONTO (21 March 2018)—Pride House founder Dean Nelson will receive the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s Pioneer Award on 11 May at Voyage, the signature fundraising event for the IGLTA Foundation. Nelson, the CEO/Executive Producer of Whistler Pride & Ski Festival, created Pride House as a pavilion to celebrate diversity in sport and raise awareness of homophobia within sports at the Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

The Pioneer Award, part of the annual IGLTA Honors selected by the association’s board of directors, is given to an individual, business, or organization whose innovative spirit and actions have led the way in moving LGBTQ+ travel forward.

“There are many ways the tourism industry can help to create safe, welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ people globally, and Pride House is a shining example of that,” said Juan Julià, IGLTA Board Chair. “We are excited to celebrate Dean Nelson, who developed a way to champion diversity through major international sports events such as the Olympic Games, an event that touches lives around the world.”

“Sports have long been recognized as a means to bring people together, however LGBTQ+ athletes have remained in the shadows, feeling compelled to hide their sexual orientation for safety reasons,” added John Tanzella, IGLTA President/CEO. “Pride House set out to change this, providing a way to celebrate these courageous athletes and paving the way for others to come out. I am so proud of Dean’s work to help LGBTQ+ athletes feel valued.”

Modeled after a traditional Olympic hospitality house, Pride House has continued forward, providing a safe space welcoming LGBTQ+ athletes, fans, and their allies during large-scale international sporting events. Nelson continues to be a part of the Pride House Advisory Group, which mentored the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Rio FIFA World Cup 2014, Toronto 2015 PanAm Games, Vancouver 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games and many more. He also is the co-founder of Mr. Gay World, an organization that incorporates sports, culture and human rights into public performances in an effort to raise awareness of homophobia.

"I am so honored to be recognized by my international peers at the 35th Annual IGLTA Global Convention with the Pioneer Award,” Nelson said. “Travel has always been a passion of mine. Having the ability to link sports and travel with raising awareness of gender and sexual diversity to make both travel and sports safer and more inclusive has always been a driving force for me. I have been very fortunate to have a wonderful team and community that believes in some of my ideas and together we have made a difference being felt around the planet."

For Canadian figure skater Eric Radford, the first openly gay male Winter Olympic champion, "Pride House is like going to a house party and seeing a familiar face.”

“You’re at the Olympics, in this more conservative country, and just knowing that there’s a Pride House there, this place that’s always going to be available where we can go and hang out, it creates an amazing energy, and that’s part of what the movement is,” he said. “I feel like Canadian values reflect equality and inclusion across the board for all people, despite their backgrounds, despite their race, despite their sexuality. It just makes sense that Canada would be the country to house Pride House.”


Voyage, an elegant event to benefit IGLTAF, will be held during IGLTA’s Anniversary Global Convention in Toronto.

  • When: 11 May, 2018, 6:30-10:30pm
  • Where: Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front St W, Toronto
  • Featuring: Silent auction with fantastic travel packages, cocktails, a networking dinner, and the IGLTA Honors, presented with the support of Visit Philadelphia, to celebrate those who have improved the global landscape of LGBTQ+ tourism.

To purchase tickets for Voyage, please visit

For general IGLTA convention information, please visit or email IGLTA convention registration is not required to attend Voyage. The event is open to everyone interested in making the world more welcoming for all who travel in it.

The IGLTAF extends a special thank you to its Founding Partner, Delta Air Lines; Voyage Presenting Sponsor, Disney Destinations; and Voyage Host Sponsor, the Fairmont Royal York.

About IGLTA & The IGLTA Foundation

IGLTA, the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association is the leading member-based global organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ tourism and a proud Affiliate Member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. The IGLTA Foundation supports the mission of IGLTA and its membership with a focus on education, research and developing future leaders in LGBTQ+ tourism. IGLTA membership includes LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ-friendly accommodations, destinations, service providers, travel agents, tour operators, events and travel media in more than 75 countries. For more information: or and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @iglta.