Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
TORONTO — In 1984, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) held its first convention in San Francisco with the mission to expand LGBTQ tourism globally and be a resource for queer travellers — and the agents, tour operators, hotels and tourism bureaus eager to attract them.
For the 35th anniversary, the Annual Global Convention will be in Toronto on May 9-12 with the main programming unfolding at the host hotel, the Westin Harbour Castle. Off-site parties are also planned at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, the Fairmont Royal York and Casa Loma.
Attendees can expect a gathering of leaders in LGBTQ-welcoming travel who are coming to Toronto to share ideas, discuss trends and make connections that will help grow business. The IGLTA committee promises an opportunity for both established travel professionals and newcomers to the LGBTQ market to benefit from three days of educational sessions and networking events.
“Supporting LGBTQ travel carries both social and economic benefits for the travel industry,” says John Tanzella, President/CEO, IGLTA when asked about the importance of learning about LGBT travel. “The LGBTQ community travels often so it’s a lucrative segment, but they’re also savvy and loyal, rewarding businesses that understand their needs and connect with them in an authentic way. We’ve seen time and again how destinations and travel businesses that welcome all travellers come out ahead of those that do not.”
A major highlight of this year’s conference will be the Voyage fundraising event presented by Disney Destinations at the Fairmont Royal York on the Friday. It will include a silent auction, cocktails, a networking dinner and the IGLTA Honors, presented with the support of Visit Philadelphia, which celebrates those who have improved the global landscape of LGBTQ tourism. Among this year’s recipients is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who’s being honoured for advancing LGBTQ travel worldwide. It has yet to be confirmed whether he will accept his award in person; in the event that he is unable to attend, Randy Boissonnault, Prime Minister Trudeau’s LGBTQ2 Liaison, will accept on his behalf.
The Voyage event will also be attended by well known Canadian athletes, including Olympic gold medal winner Mark Tewksbury, as well as the cast of the Toronto-filmed Queer as Folk. IGLTA convention registration is not required to attend Voyage and tickets can be purchased at iglta.org/convention/rsvp/voyage/.
Registration for Annual Global Convention is open up until the start of the conference with a new pass allowing participants to register for just the Friday. For more, visit iglta.org/convention.