The IGLTA Foundation Fellowship Program

By offering fellowships, the IGLTA Foundation empowers LGBTQ+ individuals to pursue their dreams and build successful careers in the travel, tourism & hospitality industry. Not only do these programs provide financial support, professional development, and industry experience, but they also contribute to the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field.

Recipients will have the opportunity to attend the IGLTA Global Convention and other industry events, and gain valuable experience, network with industry leaders, and make meaningful connections that can last a lifetime. 

The IGLTA Foundation's fellowships aim to help LGBTQ+ individuals from regions where LGBTQ+ infrastructure is not properly established and individuals who have not previously been able to attend an IGLTA convention or symposium to achieve their professional goals and contribute to the growth of the travel and tourism industry. To apply for these life-changing programs, please see the open applications below.


Warm thanks to our fellowship sponsors

Annual Fellowships

David Martin LGBTQ+ owned or managed Small Business Fellowship

Recipients of our David Martin Small Business Fellowships will receive financial support for convention registration fees and travel expenses. In addition to attending the convention, they will also have the opportunity to network with travel industry leaders from around the world and attend educational sessions on a wide range of topics related to the LGBTQ+ tourism industry.

Building Bridges Fellowship

Our Building Bridges Fellowships are awarded to tourism and hospitality students in the host city, providing them with funding for convention registration fees and travel expenses. This enables them to attend the convention, gain valuable insights into the LGBTQ+ tourism industry, and connect with potential employers and mentors.

An additional Building Bridges Fellowship is presented in collaboration with the Pacific Asia Travel Association and is open to members of PATA's young professionals network. 

Our commitment to supporting LGBTQ+ tourism businesses extends beyond the duration of our Fellowship Programs. To measure our program's success and identify areas for improvement, we have implemented a post-fellowship follow-up program. Through this effort, we aim to continuously enhance our support to our Fellowship Program recipients and make a lasting impact on the LGBTQ+ tourism industry worldwide.

Our opportunities are made possible through the support of partners, IGLTA members, and individual donors. Empower the next generation of LGBTQ+ travel and tourism leaders with a donation that provides financial support, professional development, and industry experience. Help us create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry for all. Donate now and make an impact on the future of travel and tourism.


Fellowship breakdown

PATA logo


Upcoming Fellowships


  • JAPAN 2024

    DEADLINE : MAY 17, 2024

    The IGLTA Foundation's Fellowship Program offers travel funding and mentorship to LGBTQ+ small business leaders, young professionals, and students. Selected individuals gain access to the IGLTA Global Convention, empowering them to contribute to LGBTQ+ tourism development. Up to 5 Fellowships are available for LGBTQ+ small travel business owners, managers, or staff in the tourism sector. To qualify, applicants must work in LGBTQ+ tourism or related fields and not have previously attended the IGLTA Global Convention. Explore this exciting opportunity today!


    • Recognition on the main stage during IGLTA Global Convention in Osaka
    • Mentorship from an industry leader
    • All travel expenses, including air, hotel and meals
    • Complimentary IGLTA membership
    • Spotlight on IGLTA social media and newsletter reaching 12,500+ tourism professionals in 80 countries

Past Fellowships 

  • IGLTA Foundation Equal Africa

    Announcing our second Fellowship Program for LGBTQ+ small business leaders in Africa! The IGLTA Foundation's Equal Africa Fellowship Program offers funding and mentorship to LGBTQ+ small business leaders and staff members from Africa. This program equips recipients with the resources to attend Equal Africa, powered by the IGLTA Foundation, contributing to their professional LGBTQ+ tourism development. It aims particularly to support regions where LGBTQ+ infrastructure is not well-established. The program covers all event registration fees and travel expenses, allowing fellows to network with global travel industry leaders and attend a one-day educational symposium on LGBTQ+ tourism. Additionally, fellows receive a complimentary IGLTA membership.

    Njeri EQUAL Africa 2024

     Njeri Gachuhi, Founder, The Travelling Wakili

    Njeri is lawyer-turned-entrepreneur who founded The Travelling Wakili, a bespoke travel company that provides safe and inclusive travel experiences for women and queer folk on the African continent.

    Wakili is Swahili for lawyer; The Travelling Wakili translates to The Travelling Lawyer.

  • India Fellowship

    The IGLTA Foundation's Fellowship Program is your unique opportunity to be part of the India Symposium. Connect with leaders in the industry, gain valuable insights, and make a positive impact on LGBTQ+ tourism. Join us to be a catalyst for progress and inclusion. This fellowship offers financial assistance, covering expenses such as airfare and accommodation, to support LGBTQ+ small business leaders and LGBTQ+ staff members employed in tourism organizations in India. This support enables them to participate in the one-day symposium, providing valuable opportunities for professional development and hands-on industry experience.


    Nakshatra Bagwe - India's first gay brand ambassador! He is also an award winning filmmaker and actor who started his film career at a young age in the times when section 377 still existed. The BackPack Travels, a travel initiative for the gay and bisexual men was launched by Nakshatra in 2016. In his 8 years of tourism career, Nakshatra travelled with 1000+ community members and offered them inclusive travel experience. Nakshatra has worked with 60+ Indian and Global brands as an influencer. The ShoutOut Party, an LGBTQ+ party brand is the latest milestone in his colorful career. Known for his outspoken and fearless fight against the homophobia, Nakshatra Bagwe is a name that's recognised & respected by LGBTQ+ youth in India.

  • 2023 Fellowship Recipients

    2023 convention banner

    The IGLTA Foundation has granted Fellowships to LGBTQ+ small business owners/managers in the travel industry and LGBTQ+ staff members working within tourism organizations from the CALA region. This support enables them to participate in the IGLTA Global Convention and make valuable contributions to the advancement of LGBTQ+ tourism within their professions.


    Joel Simpson | Managing Director, SASOD Guyana (Guyana)


    Jan Novak  | Founder, Fusion G Playa Pride a.c. and Internatinoal queer film festival Playa del Carmen (Mexico)


    Alvaro Pereira | Destination Specialist, Responsible Travel Ecuador (Ecuador)



    René Jorge Larios Gutiérrez | Founder,  Gay Cabo (Mexico)


    Welton Danner Trindade | Sales Supervisor,  Rede Guiya - BH, Brasília, Floripa, Salvador e São Paulo (Brazil)


    Tamisha Sanchez | Outlet & Small Group Sales Manager, Fairmont El San Juan Hotel (Puerto Rico)



    Alexander Semidey | Founder, Transparent Eco Tours (Puerto Rico)


    Simone Harris | Analyst Tourism Networks, Tourism Enhancement Fund (Jamaica)

  • IGLTA Foundation Equal Africa


    Rodney Otieno headshot


    Winstone Rodney Otieno | Co-Founder and Director of Policy Development & Membership for the Queer & Allied Chamber of Commerce Africa (QACC Africa)

    Rodney is a dedicated social protection enthusiast, holding a Masters in Community Development and Social Protection. Growing up in western Kenya, Rodney was fortunate enough to have a very open-minded and supportive mother who supported Rodney’s natural path from childhood to being a proudly queer male.

    Rodney has worked in the humanitarian sector coordinating training programs for people living with disabilities, whilst also holding senior roles in the tourism and travel industry, which is his passion, having graduated with a Bachelor of Tourism Management. Rodney’s travel consultancy, WKI Travel, focuses on providing safe and exciting leisure and corporate travel solutions for the LGBTQ+ community in addition to inclusive and accessible travel solutions for people living with disabilities.

    Rodney is the Co-Founder and Director of Policy Development & Membership for the Queer & Allied Chamber of Commerce Africa (QACC Africa), an organization that creates an inclusive ecosystem for queer entrepreneurs to facilitate commercial relationships and economic empowerment, widening LGBTQ+ supply-chains throughout Africa. The Chamber of Commerce also provides inclusivity and diversity training to corporates and promotes the creation of safe workplaces for the LBGTQ+ community. 

    With his tourism background, Rodney is extremely passionate about supporting queer people working in the tourism industry to grow their skills and succeed in their tourism business, whilst also promoting East Africa as a fabulous place to visit for LGBTQ+ travellers.

  • David Martin Small Business Fellowship Recipients

    aisha shaibu

    Danny Guerrero headshot

    Mariana Radisic headshot

    Aisha Shaibu | Founder, Moonlight Experiences

    Aisha Shaibu is a prominent queer activist, cultural producer, and one of the 'Top 100 LGBTQ+ trailblazers' changing the world. She is the founder of Moonlight Experiences: an award-winning platform dedicated to the celebration of queer culture through travel and experiences. Moonlight Experiences exists to tackle the lack of diversity in the travel industry by harnessing the economic power of tourism & nightlife to uplift queer women, non-binary, and Black/POC members. Aisha's passion for travel as part of @thequeernomads with her wife and her activism are intertwined, she is also the Head of Community Engagement at UK Black Pride and a trustee for GiveOut. Aisha truly believes in breaking down intersectional barriers and advocating for avid travelers to do better to create change that is impactful and sustainable so that our community globally can thrive.

    Danny Guerrero | Founder, The Culturist Group

    The Culturist Group is a 100% minority-owned travel marketing company and the vision of Danny Guerrero, an award-winning 20+ year travel and tourism marketing expert and thought leader for multiculturalism and diversity in travel. CULTURIST as a concept and consultancy practice bridges emerging cultural values and the needs of diverse consumers to travel brands via marketing and communications strategies to help the industry become more prosperous, and inclusive. Danny is an Advisory Board Member with the Black Travel Alliance and Travel Unity and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences where he advocates for underrepresented travelers and illuminates how shifting demographics, travel sentiment, and culture represents opportunities for the travel industry. Danny was the recipient of the ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’ granted by the World Travel and Tourism Council for his work advancing diversity and equity in the industry in 2021, and the Chairman’s Award granted by the National Association of Black Meeting Professionals. Danny is a 2024 Executive MBA candidate at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He resides in Los Angeles with his husband Jaime and their dog Louie.

    Mariana Radisic Koliren | Founder, Lunfarda Travel

    Mariana is an activist by birth and an experience designer by trade. After a life-affirming experience visiting Israel with an amazing tour guide, she decided to set aside her studies in advertising and contemporary arts to become a full time tour guide and create lifelong memories for people visiting Buenos Aires, her hometown. Soon enough she realized the industry was dominated by a handful of people perpetuating problematic narratives about her country, and they wouldn't bring about the change she wanted to see in the industry. Wanting to bring more diversity in the industry and in the storytelling to the table, Mariana founded in 2019 the first self-described intersectional travel agency: Lunfarda Travel. In Lunfarda, Mariana designs alongside her community experiences showcasing the multiculturality of Argentina with a mission of diversifying the industry as well. From the first Black History tour in Argentina, to a line of tours for children to an LGBT+ tour that supports gender non-conforming students, Mariana is set to challenge the traditional ways of conducting tourism through deep knowledge, community ties and radical empathy.

    In addition to our David Martin Small Business Fellowships, the IGLTA Foundation also welcomed students from Bocconi University.

    2022 Fellowship recipients

  • donnya piggott

    Donnya Zi Piggott | CEO and Co-Founder, Pink Coconuts

    Donnya (also Zi) is the CEO and Co-Founder of Pink Coconuts - a new LGBTQ+ travel startup focused on creating spaces for queer travellers to thrive.  Zi was given the prestigious Queen's Young Leader Award by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace for their work as an LGBTQ Caribbean Advocate and the co-founder of B-GLAD, an LGBTQ organisation focussed on advancing the social, political and economic environment for LGBTQ people to live, work and play. Zi has spoken at forums like TEDx Bridgetown, Heineken's National Conference, UK Black Pride, One Young World, Human Rights Campaign, Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta & London, The Economist in New York, International Gay and Lesbian Association Conference in New Zealand. In 2017 Zi became a Watson University Scholar focused on Social Entrepreneurship in Boulder, Colorado. In 2019, Zi was named the winner of the Sustainable Development Goal 10 Challenge by One Young World - a world wide organization and competition which saw thousands of entries from all around the world. Zi received the award at the annual conference in London that year. Zi now lives and works between Bridgetown, Nairobi and Los Angeles with her partner and Co-Founder Thogori Karago.  

  • 2019 Fellowship recipients collage

    Our 2019 David Martin Small Business Scholarship recipients are Lipian Mtandabari of Ntsako Travel Africa, from Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, Michael Venturiello, Christopher Street Tours, from New York City and Shoichi Yamaguchi of Elly, from Ise-City, Japan.


    An additional Building Bridges Scholarship is presented in collaboration with the Pacific Asia Travel Association and our 2019 recipient from Nepal is: Kim Parina Thakuri.

    Our 2019 recipients from New York University Tisch Center of Hospitality are:

    Gianpaolo Russo, Guillaume Pros and Sergio Pimentel.

  • 2018 Fellowship recipients

    Pictured left to right: Thanakarn (Bella) Vongvisitsin, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University; Marco Briganti, Ryerson University; John Chervy Rosal, Centennial College; and Nicholas Tremblay, Ryerson University.

    "It was the nicest convention that I have ever had. I made connections with a lot of people, made friends and learned a lot about what's really going on with respect to LGBTQ + tourism." - Thanakarn (Bella) Vongvisitsin, 2019 Building Bridges Scholarship recipient in collaboration with the Pacific Asia Travel Association.

  • 2017 Fellowship recipients

    Pictured left to right: Michael Gladwin, Edenvale, South Africa; Katherine Vielman, Hollywood, Florida; Khari Grant, Orlando, Florida; Junqi "Vincent" Weng, Zhejiang, China: John Sakakini, Washington, D.C.

  • 2016 Fellowship Recipients

    IGLTA board member Rika Jean-Francois with Annual Global Convention scholarship recipients pictured left to right: Vidar Nilsen (Norway), Hlengiwe Buthelezi (South Africa) and students from The International Hotel School in Cape Town.

  • 2015 Fellowship recipients

    Pictured left To right: Kan Kikumoto (Japan), Ena Yanagi (Japan), Wang Hao (China), Olubode Shawn Brown (Jamaica), And Fabio Rugeles (Colombia).

  • 2014 Fellowship recipients

    IGLTA Foundation board member Gregg Kaminsky with Annual Global Convention fellowship recipients Robert Washington Jr. (US), Janice Tjon Sien Kie (Curacao), Marco Jaramillo (Colombia), Ryan Romero (US), and Murilo Lima Araujo Costa (Brazil).

  • 2013 Fellowship recipients

    Pictured left to right: Aaron Paiva Leyton (Peru), Kleber de Oliveira da Silva (Brazil), Kathy Eow (YS), Teddy Frank (Liberia), and Jermain Tjin-a-Koeng (Suriname) with former foundation Executive Director Travis Ferland.


About the IGLTA Foundation

The IGLTA Foundation empowers LGBTQ+ welcoming tourism businesses globally through leadership, research and education. Founded in 2012, the foundation is the 501(c)3 public charity subsidiary of IGLTA and supports initiatives for industry organizations, leaders and communities to advance LGBTQ+ travel around the world.