The Travel Award 2016: International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA)


    Introducing the IGLTA, a gay-friendly global travel network dedicated to connecting LGBT travelers to the businesses that support them and recipient of the 2016 Winq Travel Award, presented by Suki Sandhu at our 2016 awards luncheon, supported by United Airlines.

    You only need to look at the so-called rights invoked in the name of ‘religious freedom’ to understand the value of an organisation the like of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA). That couple who don’t want to allow you and your partner to share a bed in their B&B can be despised or pitied in equal measure on the basis of their beliefs. But mostly, you just don’t want to be there, you want to be among friends worthy of your dollar. The IGLTA brings together a disparate range of airlines, hoteliers, tour operators and service providers that will love and respect you for who you are. Enough said.

    We spoke to IGLTA President and CEO John Tanzella about the organisation’s past, present and future.

    John on the IGLTA’s origins:
    “We were founded in 1983 by a small group of travel agents and gay guesthouse owners in South Florida at a time when the LGBT community lacked openness outside of major cities and online travel booking didn’t exist. They wanted to create a way to do business with like-minded people and provide safe, welcoming vacations for their clients. That goal still applies, only now we’ve expanded far beyond South Florida into all corners of the world.”

    John on how the IGLTA has evolved during his involvement:
    “It’s more globally diverse, and we engage with more types of tourism businesses. We didn’t have any corporate partners when I started, and only one organisational partner. We started as a business-to-business organisation, but now we do much more consumer outreach and have created a philanthropic foundation.”

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    John on his proudest IGLTA moment:
    “There have been many moments I’m proud of, but most of all would be the launch of the IGLTA Foundation as a way of giving back to LGBT tourism. It was something I felt the organisation needed from the beginning, but we didn’t have the bandwidth to achieve it until a few years ago. We now have a dynamic board of IGLTA members who lead the Foundation’s efforts. There’s nothing quite like seeing an LGBT tourism student from China or a small business owner from Durban experience his or her first LGBT conference. These will be the future leaders in our industry.”

    Congratulations to the IGLTA, the winner of the 2016 Winq Travel Award! Pick up your copy of Winq Winter 2016, out now, to read the full four-page feature, along with all the other interviews with our Men of the Year.