The gay and lesbian travel community is the largest niche travel market in America. In 2014 over 100 million dollars were generated by this market through local and international travel.
It is big business and companies around the world are increasingly promoting LGBT (gay) tourism.
We met up with John Tanzella, president of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), to chat about LGBT tourism and the upcoming IGLTA Annual Global Convention, which will be hosted in Cape Town from 14-16 April. John is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Why have you chosen Cape Town as the destination for your 2016 convention?
There is great interest among American and Canadian travellers to visit South Africa and Cape Town happens to have a big LGBT community. We felt that the timing for hosting the convention in Cape Town was right.
Our strong working relationship with South African Tourism and Cape Town Tourism also made Cape Town an attractive choice for the convention. Over the last few years, we’ve hosted the convention in countries such as Belgium, Spain and Brazil and we’re really excited to be bringing it to Africa.
How many people are you expecting at the convention?
We’re expecting between 300 – 400 delegates from all over the world, including Europe, Brazil and Tokyo. The LGBT market is really big in Japan with four to five gay pride festivals hosted there every year.
How would you differentiate between gay travellers and straight travellers?
Research shows that gay travellers typically don’t have children, which means that there is more disposable income available for travelling. These travellers travel more frequently compared to straight travellers and are particularly loyal to tourism brands and companies that they like.
Please provide tips for tourism companies that wish to attract LGBT travellers.
The IGLTA is the world’s leading global travel network dedicated to connecting and educating LGBT travellers and the businesses that welcome and support them along the way.
We have a presence in 80 countries and we refer our travel community to our members. I’d therefore advise tourism-related businesses to join our network by signing up at www.iglta.org. Members can use our logo on their website, which signals that LGBT travellers are welcome.
Which countries come out tops for LGBT tourism and which ones have a poor track record?
The most popular international destinations for American and Canadian LGBT travellers are Asia, Africa and South America. Countries such as Russia and Uganda, on the other hand, are not particularly welcoming to LGBT travellers. Neither is the Middle East.
This is often due to restrictive government policies, as opposed to private tourism companies operating within those places. The IGLTA tries to create awareness by emphasizing the financial benefits that can be derived from LGBT tourism.
What are you most looking forward to during your upcoming stay in Cape Town?
I will have ten days in Cape Town (including the conferencing days) and four days in Franschhoek. I’m most excited about spending some time in the Cape winelands with five of my good friends.