22 MAY 2018: The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Associations 35th Anniversary Global Convention, was held at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto, May 9 to 12.  The event brought together approximately 500 tourism professionals, representing 40 countries, who shared innovative ideas and best practices, making it the most globally diverse conference in IGLTA’s history.

“The numbers clearly show that after 35 years, our convention is not only more relevant than ever, but also that the desire to engage and support LGBTQ travellers is expanding across the globe. Our participants include the thought leaders of our market and will help IGLTA to advance LGBTQ travel globally throughout 2018 and beyond. I’m so proud of the content we shared and the connections that were made this year in Toronto, our incredibly warm and inclusive host city, “said IGLTA president/CEO John Tanzella.

Among the highlights: Michael Kajubi, a gay tour operator in Uganda sharing his personal experiences on the ground in a country known for homophobia; Drew Cumpson, a ventilated quadriplegic gay man educating the industry on accessibility in travel; and in-depth looks at global travel data and trends, the intersection of human rights and tourism, and responsible travel.

Voyage, the IGLTA Foundation benefit held at the Fairmont Royal York on Friday, raised more than US $40,000 for education, research, and developing the next generation of LGBTQ travel professionals, making it the most successful IGLTAF fundraiser to date. The event included an interview with Sharon Gless, Gale Harold, Peter Paige and Scott Lowell from the American-Canadian production of Queer As Folk, and the presentation of IGLTA’s highest honour, the Pinnacle Award, to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre and LGBTQ2 Liaison to Trudeau, accepted the award on Trudeau’s behalf.

Next year’s IGLTA Annual Global Convention will be held 24-27 April in at the Hilton New York City.

Updates can be found here - www.iglta.org/convention

Pride of the Americas

During the IGLTA Convention, Greater Fort Lauderdale was on hand to sponsor a couple of events during the convention, including a media only invite reception, where it was announced that the destination will be playing host to the first ever, Pride of the Americas Festival, taking place April 17 to 26, 2020.

The 10-Day Festival will be focusing on LGBT+ issues of importance to the community, and is expected to attract more than 350,000 attendees. The event will be hosted by Pride of Fort Lauderdale, and presented by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB). It will include a parade, a beach party, arts festival, social events throughout the destination, and a human rights conference focused on LGBT+ rights.

The conference will draw attention to the issues LGBT+ individuals face in Latin America and the Caribbean. The event hopes to bring international attention to these inequalities while improving education and understanding of the LGBT+ community on a global scale.

“We worked extremely close with Pride Fort Lauderdale to develop the concept of this important and transformational event,” said Richard Gray, vice president, LGBT+ Marketing with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Greater Fort Lauderdale has been at the forefront of LGBT+ sensitivity and issues for decades and we look forward to continuing to lead the way by bringing together experts for this important and thought-provoking event. The Pride of Americas Festival joins the Southern Comfort conference as two of the most important LGBT+ events to take place in our destination.”

Welcoming 1.5 million LGBT+ visitors spending $1.5 billion, Greater Fort Lauderdale is well-suited to host this prestigious conference. It is also home to one of the largest Pride Centers in the country, the world's first AIDS museum, the global headquarters of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, and the Stonewall Museum. Miik Martorell, president, Pride Fort Lauderdale, also noted, “In 2019, our theme is‘Carnival,’ and we will be presenting the very first parade along Fort Lauderdale Beach.

For more information, go to PrideFortLauderdale.org, PrideOfTheAmericas.org, and Sunny.org.

In addition to the Pride of the Americas announcement, a new tourism video was released, introducing the GFLCVB’s new #GreaterTogether marketing campaign as being inclusive to all.

Economics of Tourism

Prior to the official start of the IGLTA Convention, the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) presented Economics of Tourism, part of their ongoing Thought Leadership Series, that offered attendees an in-depth look at the influence that the tourism sector has on the Canadian economy. Speakers included: Charlotte Bell, president & CEO, TIAC, Ken Chan, assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and Andrew Weir, executive vice president & chief marketing officer Tourism Toronto. Moderated by, Frederic Dimanche, director, Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Ryerson University.

Following the panel discussion, there was a networking reception presented in partnership with Pink Banana Media, that included delegates from the IGLTA convention, media, and various travel media influencers.

Key Tourism Facts

Tourism has a significant impact in Canada, generating $90 billion in economic activity and 1.7 million related jobs. The industry is a $97.4-billion-dollar sector nationally, bigger than Forestry, Mining and Agriculture combined. It accounts for 2% of Canada’s GDP and employs 1.8 million Canadians, with the meetings and conventions alone accounting for $30 Billion with 124,000 jobs.

Ontario represents $34.1 billion of the overall tourism revenue noted above, which is 4.3% of the provincial GDP, an increase of 5.4% from the previous year.

In the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 2017 Canada Benchmarking report it was noted that for every direct job in the tourism sector, nearly two additional jobs are created on the indirect or induced basis

Based on the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, from an overall Country Competitiveness view, Canada ranks 9th globally.

Canada's New Tourism Vision sets out concrete targets for growth: Canada will compete to be one of the top ten most visited countries in the world by 2025, the number of international overnight visits to Canada will increase by 30 percent by 2021, the number of tourists from China will double, by 2021.

The 2017 Global Tourism Watch showed that the LGBTQ market with immediate potential to travel to Canada (those definitely or very likely to visit in the next two years) is over 14.4 million travellers.

The CGLCC also announced the findings of Canada's first LGBT travel study showing an estimated market of 1.8 million LGBT travellers spent on average $1,166 per trip last year. The study determined the size of the Canadian gay travel market at $5.4 billion in Canada, $2.4 billion travelling in the US, and $1.7 billion elsewhere. The study also found that 83% of gay travellers believe Canada to be a place that goes out of its way to welcome gay visitors.

When compared to the general travel market the following was found with regard to LGBT travellers:

⦁ they spend nearly twice as much per trip ($1,166 vs. $627), are almost twice as likely to go on vacation or leisure trips, and are more likely to travel in the winter, with 23% of trips occurring during this time period.

Laurence Bernstein, the managing partner of Bay Charles Consulting Company, says “This study confirms that there is a pent-up demand for increased travel within Canada among the gay community.”

“The domestic LGBT market is an important one for Canada. For much of the Canadian tourism market, the gay market is still undeveloped and an untapped market. This research demonstrates that the domestic gay market is a force in itself,” said Bruce McDonald of CGLCC.

Overall, the LGBT tourism sector remains a huge potential for continued growth, both here in Canada, and globally as well.


All Images: Rachel Stevenson/OUTCOAST Photography

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