LGBTQ+ travel to come of age with IGLTA arrival in India
According to 2021 US Government Census Data, the LGBTQ+ is the fastest growing minority segment in the US with close to US$ 1.4 trillion in spending power. More than 7 per cent of the overall US population consider themselves LGBTQ+. Household income is approximately double the national average (Almost US$ 130,000 for Gay couples). Now that’s just one country where LGBTQ+ population feels more at home and therefore is vocal and open to identifying themselves as such along with their needs and preferences. That also lends credibility to the data.
However, what such a data also makes remarkably clear is that for stakeholders in tourism, functioning across both the inbound as well as the outbound travel segments, globally this is a huge market to tap into. And leading that cause is the US headquartered 40-years old International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) that today boasts of over 12,000 tourism business professionals as members in over 80 countries. US and Brazil are its top two markets in terms of membership. The association also boasts of strong presence in countries such as Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Canada, Japan, among others.
IGLTA is now keen to establish its presence in India in order to exploit the country’s appeal as a tourism destination as well as for its source market potential. John Tanzella, President & CEO of IGLTA, was recently in India to conduct a first of its kind LGBTQ+ travel symposium here. The event was organised in New Delhi at The LaLit Hotel. However, Tanzella doesn’t want to stop at just symposium. He is keen to widen the scope of LGBTQ+ travel in and out of the country, establish greater presence through widening membership base which was under 20 until a few weeks ago, hire somebody to represent IGLTA in India and carry out its mandate for the industry.
“India is a big market for tourism because it has such a huge population, not only for outbound but also inbound for all the historical sites and culture and uniqueness of India that you don’t find anywhere else. And if you take that down to the LGBTQ segment, it’s the same. We have a lot of LGBTQ tour operators that are wanting to do more business in India taking groups here but they don’t know who to work with and where to stay and things like that. So part of what we do is to help connect businesses in the travel industry to do business together to ensure safe and welcoming travel experiences for our community,” said Tanzella.
IGLTA President also informed that they are hiring someone here to help navigate the nuances of LGBTQ+ travel to the Indian market.
Furthermore, talking about the key mandate of the association, Tanzella said, “IGLTA helps the travel industry with understating and welcoming LGBTQ travels, from tour operators and travel agents to hoteliers, tourism boards, airlines, cruise lines. We also work with Universities and Governments as well when appropriate. Also, a lot of what we do is on the educational side, like educating travel professionals about the nuances and about the uniqueness of the community.”
Towards these objectives, IGLTA organises virtual and in-person conferences, does ‘market places’ where buyers and suppliers can meet, whether it is in-person or speed meeting online. “That’s the way sort of where DMCs in India, say, meet tour operator from wherever, let’s say Paris. They now have connection to do business and that’s comes out of our meeting. So a lot of what we do is connecting. And then educational part is really important so that businesses can understand what’s the differences and nuances with LGBTQ travellers,” he said, while adding that the association also does “a lot of research projects, data, best practices, trends, that we provide to our members which is very helpful.”