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July 25, 2017

LGBT and the UNWTO Secretary General Election: IGLTA CEO John Tanzella issues a statement


High spending LGBT travelers contribute a substantial amount of business to the global travel and tourism industry. John Tanzella, president, and CEO of IGLTA knows this very well.  He knows the UNWTO is about to elect a new Secretary General. The new Secretary General will lead this global industry into a new phase. There are seven candidates competing for the highest post.

The only candidate openly supportive to the LGBT community is Alain St. Ange from the Seychelles. During ITB he attended an event with IGLTA and ETOA at the Belgium Embassy in Brussels. The other six candidates did not yet address the issue of gay, lesbian, and transgender travel but discussed in details equality for women and accessible tourism for all. The human right to travel always pops up at UNWTO conferences.

Gay and lesbian acts remain illegal in the world, including in a large number of UNWTO member countries. Therefore UNWTO struggles with an official policy on this issue.  Last year at World Tourism Day in Bangkok, Mr. Xu Jing, UNWTO’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific (China), openly voiced UNWTO’s support for the LGBT traveler after David Scowsill, President and CEO of WTTC took a lead in including everyone in the tourism for all theme. This happened after eTN publisher Juergen Steinmetz asked the question at a press conference.

It remains to be seen who will respond to the statement just released by the IGLTA leader. IGLTA stands for International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. IGLTA is an international organization. IGLTA is a leading global travel network dedicated to connecting and educating LGBT travelers and the businesses that welcome and support. The organization is based in Florida, USA with members around the world.

IGLTA’s statement reads: “The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association has been a proud Affiliate Member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization since 2010, the first, and to date, only LGBTQ organization included in this program. We collaborated with UNWTO on the 1st Global Report on LGBT Tourism in 2012 and are pleased to continue that partnership on the second edition of the report this year

Given the support and respect afforded IGLTA and the LGBTQ tourism community through this relationship, the upcoming election for the next UNWTO Secretary General is particularly important. We want to see our industry keep moving forward in the march toward equality. We need to see a leader elected who will stand up for all members of our global community, regardless of race, gender identity, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

As a member-based association, with business members in approximately 70 countries, we cannot make an endorsement; however, we do call for all of the candidates to take a stand in support of the LGBTQ communities in their home countries and around the world. There is no room for discrimination in the tourism industry.”

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