John Tanzella, the President/CEO of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (ILGTA), has issued a statement to remind the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) member countries of the importance of this niche tourism sector ahead of the upcoming UNWTO Secretary-General elections due to take place during the UNWTO Executive Council meeting scheduled to be held in Madrid on 11 May, 2017.
“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 organisation 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 in 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.”
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 traveller after David Scowsill, President and CEO of WTTC took a lead in including everyone in the tourism for all theme.
Responding to the statement released by the IGLTA leader, the Seychelles Candidate for the position of UNWTO Secretary-General, Alain St.Ange said that he was really thankful. “The Seychelles bid for SG of the UNWTO speaks of Tourism for All without discrimination. This includes LGBT, sexual preferences, women, gender, colour of the skin, religion, politics, disability, children and more. This is the future for tourism and we cannot and should not allow it to take a different route than the route of respect for all.”
The new Secretary General will lead this global industry into a new phase and St.Ange has promised that as SG he would be the leader and the friend for everyone as he drives the Tourism for All Agenda.
There are seven candidates competing for the highest post, and the only candidate openly supportive of 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 have not, as yet, addressed the issue of gay, lesbian, and transgender travel but have discussed in detail the issues of equality for women and accessible tourism for all. The human right to travel always pops up at UNWTO conferences.
Read the full ‘Statement of Intent by UNWTO SG Candidate Alain St.Ange‘ HERE.