Africa’s biggest travel exhibition highlights LGBT tourism


LGBT travel is worth US$211 billion

This week’s 2017 World Travel Market Africa (WTMA) show in Cape Town has highlighted the burgeoning global LGBT tourism market.

Nearly 5000 travel industry professionals were expected to attend Africa’s leading and only business to business travel and tourism exhibition.

The event, which ran from 19 to 21 April, featured three travel trade talks specifically aimed at educating and inspiring those attending the WTMA on the topic of LGBT tourism.

The talks were facilitated and presented by Jason Fiddler, CEO of Travel & Show and the key accounts manager for the Board of the KwaZulu-Natal Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association (KZNGALTA).

For the second year running, WTMA maintained KZNGALTA as one of its global association partners.

“The importance of LGBT community organisations such as ours cannot be underestimated,” commented KZNGALTA Chairperson David Walker, who praised the show for having raised the bar when it comes to LGBT tourism on the continent.

“On a continent where over three dozen nations have discriminatory laws against LGBT people, tourism remains the positive driving force for change,” he said.

Fiddler is also buoyed by the WTMA’s support, as well as last year’s International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) annual convention in Cape Town, which included the then minister of tourism, Derek Hanekom, declare the government’s backing for LGBT travel.

“Coming on the back of 2016, a genuinely watershed year for LGBT travel marketing in South Africa… I think that WTMA is showing that the importance of this market cannot be ignored or sidelined any longer,” said Fiddler.

Asked why this was the case, he replied: “In 2016, OutNow presented at WTM (World Travel Market) in London their updated global valuations of the LGBT travel trade. Now at US$211 billion, this is around a 27% increase on the 2011 valuation of US$165 billion that was included in the historic UN World Tourism Organisation report on LGBT tourism.

“That’s a significant increase and a massive dedicated market that needs to be spoken to, catered for and welcomed in destinations across the world,” explained Fiddler.

“For South Africa, a nation desperately needing growth in excess of the measly 1% we’re experiencing now, and for whom tourism remains a huge growth industry that creates lasting employment, the importance of actively and practically engaging with the global LGBT tourist is well past due,” he added.

KZNGALTA was established in 2004 to promote KwaZulu-Natal as a pink-friendly tourism destination.

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