It is such a privilege to explore the world—not to mention inspiring, enlightening, and just plain fun. As LGBTQ+ travelers, the connections we make add light and warmth to our lives.
But travel is also about giving. It’s a chance to support and strengthen each community we touch. That’s true whether we’re visiting a well-established, LGBTQ+-friendly location, or an emerging destination where LGBTQ+ tourism is not yet established.
Since 1983, IGLTA’s mission has focused on broadening LGBTQ+ tourism, and with the creation of the IGLTA Foundation, our 501(c)3 public charity, we have been able to further dedicate time and resources to advance LGBTQ+ travel around the world.
IGLTAF operates from three pillars: research, leadership and education. I’ve written about some of our recent research initiatives, including this summer’s publication of the first European Handbook on LGBTQ+ Travel. Data in the handbook and in our other reports reflect travelers’ opinions and behaviors and are a valuable tool for tourism professionals.
Through the foundation’s leadership branch, we promote dialogue about LGBTQ+ travel with industry leaders, government offices and tourism boards. We also support small-business owners in emerging destinations through subsidized IGLTA memberships, helping to connect them to a wider global community of like-minded tourism professionals and potential clients.
Pictured left to right: Thanakarn (Bella) Vongvisitsin, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, sponsored in collaboration with the Pacific Asia Travel Association; Marco Briganti, Ryerson University; John Chervy Rosal, Centennial College; and Nicholas Tremblay, Ryerson University. Photo by Rachel Stevenson, OUTCOAST Photography
The foundation’s education pillar is a key to the bright future of LGBTQ+ tourism. We offer scholarships for LGBTQ+ small business owners in emerging—and sometimes challenging—destinations, to attend our Annual Global Convention (headed to New York in April 2019). IGLTAF also supports opportunities for tourism and hospitality students in our convention host city to participate in mentorship and education at the event, as well as partnering with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) to host a student from their active group of young professionals.
At our 2018 convention in Toronto, scholarships were awarded to four ambitious college students, along with entrepreneurs Jarett Sprock of PinkCuracao and Michael Kajubi of McBern Travel & Tours in Uganda, a country that is, sadly, known for homophobia.
Michael Kajubi, McBern Tours and Travel. Michael Kajubi also pictured in the top photo with fellow David Martin Small Business Scholarship Recipient Jarett Sprock and IGLTAF Board Chair Reginald Charlot. Photo by Rachel Stevenson, OUTCOAST Photography
At the convention, Michael shared wisdom from his unique perspective. “Those who travel bring a big impact to the world,” he said. “As more LGBTQ+ travelers venture to our country, Ugandans will learn firsthand who we are, who our community is, and how LGBTQ+ tourism can be a benefit to them. The person-to-person contact—between the travelers and the hotels, restaurants, drivers, guides, shopkeepers—will slowly but surely encourage change in the thoughts of Ugandans.”
That notion applies virtually everywhere, so as 2018 winds down, we invite you to donate generously to the IGLTA Foundation. We also invite tourism businesses to collaborate with us on travel packages for silent auctions that double as foundation fundraisers. (And if you’re shopping on Amazon this holiday season, consider using this link to send IGLTAF donations through Amazon Smile, at no cost to you.)
With your support, the world of LGBTQ+ travel will continue to grow and evolve in ways that enrich us all.