PHOTO: The mission of the IGLTA Foundation is to promote travel to LGBT businesses and travelers, as well as to work with governments. (Courtesy Flickr/Ted Eytan)
As the world’s leading LGBT travel network, the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) is committed to supporting and promoting the advancement of LGBT travelers and businesses around the globe.
To that end, in 2012 it created the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable subsidiary with a mission of providing “support to industry organizations, leaders and communities to encourage pro-LGBT government actions, business practices, and other travel-related practices that have direct bearing on the physical and emotional well-being of LGBT travelers.”
The Foundation has focused its efforts in three main areas: leadership, communication and education.
Leadership. As a leader in the field of LGBT travel, it’s no wonder that the Foundation has made the encouragement of LGBT-friendly practices a mainstay, whether at the government or business level. The Foundation is currently working with other travel-industry partners to create a LGBT Travelers Bill of Rights, first and foremost among them safety, and equal and respectful treatment for LGBT travelers. The Foundation also backs IGLTA’s legislative activities, including monitoring the actions of countries that either negatively or positively impact LGBT travelers, working with non-governmental organizations to positively affect legislation, and testimony before government and tourism boards on behalf of the LGBT community. The Foundation is also an official partner of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) International.
Communication. Content is king, and the Foundation works to ensure that the IGLTA is able to disseminate critical global research and other materials affecting the LGBT travel community through a variety of channels. The Foundation funds original research on issues pertaining to LGBT travel and helps to collect and share research from other industry groups that provides critical demographic and economic data to showcase the positive impact LGBT travelers can have on a region. The Foundation also funds expert speakers for the Annual Global Convention and helps to maintain the association’s website and electronic newsletter. Currently, it is working to translate the website into both Mandarin and Spanish.
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Education: In order to ensure that the coming generation of LGBT travel professionals and their supporters are an integral part of making the world a safer and better place for LGBT travelers, the Foundation offers a variety of financial assistance.
* Institutional Scholarships: The Foundation provides merit-based scholarships to LGBT students in accredited collegiate or workforce-training programs who have indicated that they are committed to assisting LGBT travelers.
* Professional Development: The IGLTA Foundation Building Bridges Scholarship Program was created to help future LGBT travel professionals and supporters and covers the cost of attending the IGLTA’s Annual Global Convention. The scholarship covers all registration fees and travel expenses and provides recipients with the chance to attend two days of education sessions, while networking with travel industry professionals from around the globe. Each year, the Foundation awards a scholarship to one LGBT small travel business owner (global) and one U.S.-based tourism and hospitality student.
* Emerging Destinations Program. With a goal of making IGLTA membership obtainable for small LGBT-owned and operated travel and tourism businesses in emerging destinations, this program has allowed IGLTA to add members in such countries as Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad and Jamaica since it was first established.