The GSBA Blog

LGBTQ Travel and Tourism: Three Ways the Industry Can Create a More Equal World for All

| Jun 05, 2018
The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association—the world’s leading network of LGBTQ-welcoming tourism businesses—holds an annual global convention to bring together business leaders in the LGBTQ travel and tourism industries every May.

This year IGLTA2018, Meridian Mayer, Sr. Membership Services Manager, was  able to connect with so many GSBA member businesses who are doing good work in this arena here in Seattle, including Matt Skallerud, President,  Pink Banana Media; Selisse Berry, CEO of Out & Equal; Robert Geller, owner of Outings & Adventures; Clovis Casemiro, Coordinator of LGBTQ Tourism in Brazil for IGLTA ; and Alan Beck, Publisher of Fun Travel Guides.


Selisse Berry - CEO of Out & Equal

Fabrice Houdart
, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was another key connection—one we’ll be hosting here in Seattle on June 13 for GSBA’s Pride Business Luncheon. Fabrice stands up for equal rights and fair treatment for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and intersex people everywhere through the United Nations Free & Equal campaign.

Thought leaders from the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the United Nations, Marriot International, Eagle Canada Human Rights Trust, and Airbnb left us with three learnings from the IGLTA conference:

1. Travel and tourism have enormous global economic impact. 

Although it’s clear and obvious that the travel and tourism industries have extensive global impact on economies and individuals, Fabrice Houdart shared the facts and figures of this reach:

The travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries with a global economic contribution of over 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars. Tourism provides 10% of the world's GDP, 7% of global trade and as many as one in every 11 jobs globally.”

Because of this global economic impact and thus global power, the hospitality and tourism industries have a critical role to play in promoting equal rights for LGBTQ people. We occupy a unique position to increase safety and inbound LGBTQ tourism across the globe, ultimately boosting economic development for all.


Clovis Casemiro, Coordinator of LGBTQ Tourism in Brazil for IGLTA

2. Travel and tourism companies that include values of fairness, equality, and inclusion in their business model help create safer spaces for LGBTQ tourists.

Apoorva Gandhi, VP of Multicultural Affairs at Marriot International Inc. shared that Marriot’s corporate values prioritize fairness, inclusion, and equality in all of their business. These values are fundamental to their culture—and instilling these values wherever they operate help to create safe spaces for LGBTQ travelers and tourists around the globe.

It’s clear that when businesses integrate values of equity and inclusion into their business models, we’re able to prioritize creating safe spaces for our community locally and globally.


(left) Robert Geller, Owner of Outings & Adventures; (right) Matt Skallerud, President, Pink Banana Media.

3. Travel and tourism corporations have the power to make lasting political change.

Corporations have the opportunity to create intentionally inclusive spaces wherever they operate—and this is a vital step in creating lasting, global change, an idea highlighted by Helen Kennedy, Executive Director at Eagle Canada Human Rights Trust. 

Corporations have the power to make changes on a political level to create lasting changes. Part of this work involves asking the people ‘on the ground’ who live and work in the places where you do business. 

Ultimately, in order to create an authentic, safe, and strategic plan toward inclusivity—versus one that could be seriously destructive—we must listen to communities where we do business.

We’re looking forward to being more deeply connected in the incredible travel and tourism work that’s helping to elevate the safe LGBTQ and allied spaces Seattle has worked tirelessly to create. 

Questions, comments, or want to have a conversation about how we can translate these learnings to your business? Join us at the June 13 Pride Business Luncheon to hear more from Fabrice Houdart and other leaders in LGBTQ global human rights.