Nearly 700 delegates representing 49 countries and territories gathered at the New York Hilton Midtown 24-27 April for IGLTA’s most successful convention to date. The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association’s premier event united global thought leaders to discuss tourism trends, technology developments, workplace inclusion and human rights—wide-ranging topics connected through the lens of LGBTQ+ travel.
“We could not be more proud of our first New York City convention, from content to collaboration,” said IGLTA President/CEO John Tanzella. “Thanks in large part to the support of our host, NYC & Company, we were able to engage far more tourism businesses than ever before and showcase the world of LGBTQ+ travel in all its diversity.”
IGLTA’s Buyer/Supplier Marketplace, presented in partnership with the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), sold out in record time, attracting buyers that sell approximately $100M in LGBTQ+ travel annually.
The IGLTA Foundation Leadership Think Tank, presented with support from Google and Miles Partnership, united 24 top executives from global CVBs/DMOs for an open dialogue about responsible tourism and LGBTQ+ travel.
Opening Day: Roger Dow, President/CEO of the US Travel Association, discussed the importance of the LGBTQ+ travel community; Hong Kong’s Kenneth Kwok, founder of Global Citizen Capital, provided insights on Asia’s LGBTQ+ market; and Mara Keisling, Founder/Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, addressed the needs of transgender travelers.
Day 2: Dougal Mckenzie, Industry Head, Travel, Google and Ophelia Pastrana, a transgender Colombian economist and tech expert based in Mexico, shared their viewpoints on the digital world. Also on the main stage: a Travel & Tourism Leadership Panel discussion on workplace equality with Delta Air Lines, Hilton, and The Travel Corporation.
Day 3: Kimahli Powell, Executive Director of Rainbow Railroad, closed the conference with the talk “Our Role in Helping Persecuted LGBTQ+ People Globally,” which included a Skype interview with Malaysian transgender rights activist Nisha Ayub, founder of the community-run SEED Foundation.
Playwright Terrence McNally and his husband, theater producer Tom Kirdahy, received the IGLTA Foundation Humanitarian Award at Voyage, the IGLTAF Benefit, on 26 April, just one day after it was announced that McNally will receive a 2019 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Each evening event had special surprise performances: Lady Bunny as DJ and Wicked stars from Broadway at the NYC & Company opening night, Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and Lounge, Moxy Times Square; performance artist Amanda Lepore at Voyage, the IGLTAF Benefit; and opera at the Italy-hosted closing night at 10 Corso Como.
The IGLTA Foundation supported convention scholarships for small businesses owners from Zimbabwe, Japan, and (in honor of Stonewall’s 50th Anniversary) New York City. IGLTAF also brought in a hospitality student from Nepal in partnership with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and local students from NYU’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality.
IGLTA shared a rainbow cake with delegates to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hilton, a global partner of the association since 2010.