In an exclusive interaction with Travel And Tour World, John Tanzella, the President and CEO of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), expressed his views on the growth and promotion of LGBTQ+ tourism. Tanzella emphasized that LGBTQ+ tourism has witnessed significant progress in recent years, with destinations and travel businesses increasingly recognizing the economic and social importance of catering to LGBTQ+ travellers.
Travel And Tour World: Share with us how IGLTA is working to promote LGBT travel around the world?
John Tanzella: IGLTA has been promoting LGBTQ+ travel around the world for 40 years. Our mission is to expand LGBTQ+ tourism by providing information and resources for LGBTQ+ travelers and the travel industry, while advocating for equality and safety within LGBTQ+ tourism globally.
We offer in-person and online educational and networking opportunities for travel professionals, a hotel accreditation programme (IGLTA Accredited), and guides and newsletters catering to both B2B and B2C audiences.
We partner with numerous tourism boards and organisations around the world to help them educate their networks on the importance of inclusivity in travel.
IGLTA is the only LGBTQ+ organization in the Affiliate Members program of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Our charitable IGLTA Foundation produces research and reports on topics ranging from DEI to LGBTQ+ travel trends, which are available for free download, and runs a Fellowship program to provide mentorship and global connections to LGBTQ+ business owners. The Foundation also has an India Initiative working to develop inbound/outbound LGBTQ+ tourism there and held its first LGBTQ+ tourism symposium in Delhi earlier this year.
Travel And Tour World: International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) selects Osaka, Japan as the destination for its 2024 Global Convention. How you are planning to functionalize the event and what are your agenda?
John Tanzella: We are very excited for Osaka 2024, as this will be our first-ever Global Convention in Asia! Our team is currently working to create a comprehensive programme that will include insightful educational sessions, energizing networking opportunities, and cultural experiences that showcase the best of Osaka and the country of Japan.
We’ll also be working closely with local partners like the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau (OCTB), a longtime IGLTA member, to ensure the event is inclusive and welcoming for all attendees.
Travel And Tour World: Share with us how International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) is working with travel agents and government to give an awareness for LGBTQ+ travel ?
John Tanzella: IGLTA offers a variety of resources and opportunities to help equip travel agents with the tools to create welcoming travel experiences for their clients, such as travel safety guides and webinars showcasing LGBTQ+ inclusive destinations.
Each IGLTA convention includes a Buyer/Supplier Marketplace to connect travel advisors/agents with LGBTQ+ welcoming suppliers for direct business meetings; and we’ve expanded this to include an annual online marketplace, #IGLTAgo.
We also collaborate with government agencies to promote policies and practices that support LGBTQ+ travellers. Recently, we partnered with the U.S. Commercial Service, which falls under the U.S. Department of Commerce, for a pride campaign to feature IGLTA member destinations in the U.S.
This campaign aims to promote LGBTQ+ tourism in the U.S. and highlight destinations that are safe, welcoming, and inclusive for LGBTQ+ travelers.
Travel And Tour World: How International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) is working with local communities to make travel more easier?
John Tanzella: We recognise the critical role that local communities play in creating safe and welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ travellers. Our best advocates are our members, located in 80 countries. By supporting their work, we can elevate messages of LGBTQ+ inclusion worldwide with a small team.
The local approach becomes much more hands-on when we host our Global Convention each year. We always invite LGBTQ+ organisations based in our convention host city to attend and strive to create volunteer or educational opportunities that integrate the local LGBTQ+ community.