The 37th IGLTA Global Convention was a resounding success, with more than 400 LGBTQ+ and allied travel professionals representing 27 countries coming together in Atlanta for a Buyer/Supplier Marketplace, several days of education, inspiration and networking, and the IGLTA Foundation fundraiser, Voyage. Proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test were required for admission to all IGLTA convention events, and the result was an extremely welcome return to some degree of normalcy for the attendees, who shared with one another their inspiring stories of professional endurance, as well as their bold ideas for innovation, safety and inclusion within the LGBTQ+ tourism sector.“We always say the IGLTA global network feels like family, because the business connections become so personal over the years,” said IGLTA President/CEO John Tanzella. “But this reunion was truly special after 18 months apart. You could feel the passion for LGBTQ+ tourism in every session, and it energized every business meeting on site. We’re so proud to lead the way in the rebuilding of our industry.”Among the many highlights:
- The opening party at the Georgia Aquarium, where the guests socialized as whale sharks, rays and sea turtles glided behind them in a 6.3 million-gallon (23.8 million-liter) tank.
- The IGLTA Foundation Think Tank at King & Spalding that united leaders from all sectors of the tourism industry and LGBTQ+ organizations; the discussion focused on the intersection of LGBTQ+ tourism with overall equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and how to come back as a stronger, more welcoming industry. A session report is forthcoming.
- Main stage content at the host hotel that ranged from discussions of DEI strategies and future LGBTQ+ travel trends to a meaningful conversation about transgender and nonbinary inclusion in hospitality. Also featured: a Google talk on the importance of inclusive marketing; Asia LGBTQ+ data from Community Marketing & Insights; and a look at the needs of LGBTQ+ refugees through the lens of Safe Place International. Pamela Stewart, President, West Operations for the North America Operating Unit, The Coca-Cola Company, wowed everyone with her Women in Business talk, “Finding the Power Within.”
- The Pinnacle Award went to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Selected by the Chair of the IGLTA board of directors, the Pinnacle Award is given to an individual, business or organization that has truly made a heroic journey in advancing LGBTQ+ travel worldwide. A special Chair’s Award also was presented to posthumously honor Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson, a travel industry leader whose support of LGBTQ+ rights led the travel community toward a more inclusive world. The IGLTA Honors are presented with the generous support of Visit Philadelphia.
- Voyage, the IGLTA Foundation Fundraiser, had its most successful year to date. The event, presented by Discover Puerto Rico and hosted by Delta Air Lines, the Atlanta CVB and the Atlanta Airport District CVB, unfolded against a backdrop of aviation history at the Delta Flight Museum, drew more than 200 attendees and raised over US$70,000 for IGLTA Foundation initiatives.