Everything the LGBT+ travel market has to offer at ITB Berlin NOW

Published on : Wednesday, February 24, 2021

From 9 to 12 March 2021 at the virtual edition of ITB Berlin NOW, the travel market in the LGBT+ Tourism segment will once again be putting its open, tolerant and diverse character on display. This year, popular programme features, expert discussions and networking events with providers from around the globe will be taking place for the first time on the virtual platform of the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show. At the LGBT+ Tourism Track at the virtual ITB Berlin NOW Convention, the whole of Thursday afternoon will be devoted to gay/lesbian travel, a first for this event. Leading experts will present their latest findings and among other things will examine the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on a market which before the crisis was one of the fastest-growing in the international tourism industry. This year’s LGBT+ Leadership Summit will look at how working and living conditions in the LGBT+ community can be improved.
Visitors can make use of the virtual Brand Cards and LGBT+ Café with its Meeting Corners in order to network and exchange views and ideas for the future. This year, at the traditional GAY ITB Party by TOMONTOUR, international guests will make a virtual appearance at the Happy Hour and be able to follow the live presentation of the coveted ITB LGBT+ Pioneer Award 2021. Italy is this year’s Presenting Partner of the LGBT+ Tourism segment. The Italian National Tourist Board (ENIT) will be represented with a number of partners active on the LGBT+ tourism market.

Kicking off events on Tuesday, 9 March 2021 from 10.30 a.m. to 12 noon, Rika Jean-Francois, commissioner for Corporate Social Responsibility ITB Berlin, and Thomas Bömkes, LGBT+ Tourism advisor to ITB Berlin, Diversity Tourism GmbH, will invite media representatives to the opening of the LGBT+ Media Café, which is sponsored by Turespaña, the Spanish National Tourist Board. On behalf of this organisation, Arturo Ortiz will hold a brief speech officially welcoming the media members present. On the first day, access to the LGBT+ Media Café is restricted to media representatives, who can make use of this exclusive opportunity to meet with various providers in a relaxed atmosphere and exchange views on the latest topics concerning the LGBT+ tourism market.

Exhibitors and trade visitors can meet at the virtual LGBT+ Tourism Café, which is sponsored by the Italian National Tourist Board (ENIT). Together with Maria Elena Rossi, global marketing director of ENIT, Rika Jean-Francois and Thomas Bömkes will also extend an official welcome from 12 noon to 12.15 p.m. In addition to the ITB LGBT+ Meeting Corner, the LGBT+ Tourism Café also features other Meeting Corners. Italy will invite participants to its so-called Espresso Talks. The IGLTA and IGLTA Foundation will also take part and present items auctioned by the Foundation. EU fundraising efforts for LGBT tourism projects will be presented, and the Local Gay Guides and Connect Thrive from the US will also be represented.


A silent auction for the benefit of the IGLTA Foundation, the charity arm of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, will take place on all four days of the show and the proceeds will be announced at the LGBT+ Happy Hour on the last day of the event. LGBT+ tourism partner ENIT will have its own presentation slot on Thursday from 1 – 1:30 p.m. featuring current developments in LGBT+ tourism in Italy.

Ideas for restarting business

On Thursday, 11 March 2021 from 3 to 6 p.m., the LGBT+ Tourism Track at the ITB Berlin NOW Convention will examine the latest trends and developments in the LGBT+ market. Based on the findings from their last two LGBTQ travel surveys in late 2020, David Paisley, senior research director of Community Marketing & Insights, and Tom Roth, president of Community Marketing & Insights (CMI), will offer practical tips on how destinations, accommodation providers and companies can attract a wide range of visitors over the next six months. Ed Salvato, lecturer at New York City University, will talk about how the loyalty and resilience of many LGBT+ travellers can help overcome the coronavirus crisis, and will highlight effective and specific ways to successfully exploit the strengths of this travel market.

Maria Elena Rossi, global marketing director of the Italian Tourist Board (ENIT), Fred Dixon, president and CEO of New York City & Company, John Tanzella, president and CEO of the IGLTA, Arturo Ortiz, from the Spanish Tourist Board Germany, and Philip Ibrahim, from Pink Pillow Berlin, will discuss how the LGBT+ tourism market can successfully restart business. In a podcast interview, the Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Maria Reyes Maroto will begin by giving her assessment of the Spanish market. Tom Dedek, EU fundraiser, Diversity Tourism GmbH, will provide orientation for the complicated process of applying for EU funds for the LGBT+ tourism industry. Peter Jordan, LGBT+ destination development consultant, and Phil Crehan, Caribbean local influencer, will look at the prospects for LGBT+ tourism in the Caribbean and how it can help overcome barriers and make the region more attractive as a destination for the LGBT+ community. Both are involved in Open For Business, a coalition of leading global enterprises dedicated to LGBT+ inclusion.

At the LGBT+ Leadership Summit, ITB Berlin will look at how society, companies and policymakers can help improve living and working conditions around the world. While in many parts of the world anti-discrimination laws and gay marriage have become a sign of progress, elsewhere the situation for the LGBT+ community is starkly different where their legal and economic interests are concerned. The summit will highlight best practices concerning solutions and aims. Together with the presenter David Downing, president of Brand, United Landmark Associates, the following will take part in the discussion: Pavel Subrt, co-founder of EastMeetsWest, Fabienne Stordiau, GGLBC e.V. – German LGBTIQ* Business Chamber and Beppo Brem, member of the Munich City Council and chair of the Gay Games Munich 2026 e.V.

For many years the GAY ITB Party by TOMONTOUR has been a firm fixture on the events calendar. On the Friday of ITB at this virtual edition of the show the hosts will invite everyone at ITB to take part in a virtual after-show LGBT+ Happy Hour from 4 to 6 p.m., followed by networking at the LGBT+ Tourism Café. The presentation of the LGBT+ Pioneer Award and the final silent auction for the benefit of the IGLTA Foundation promise to be equally fascinating events. DJ Sounds and Drag Queen Mataina will provide an entertaining finale to ITB Berlin NOW.

The programme of the LGBT+ Tourism segment is available for downloading from the ITB LGBT website and the ITB Meeting Corner of the LGBT Café.


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