Africa Travel Week
Gay South Africa

Strengthening South African connections

IGLTA’s CEO, John Tanzella shares why South Africa is a favourite LGTBQ+ destination

For many world travellers, including me, South Africa is a favourite destination. Its major cities – Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg – are rich in culture and ripe for discovery. Along with the frequent sunny days, there are renowned wine regions and gorgeous beaches. And the nation is home to magnificent parks and game reserves perfect for safari tours and nature-lodge getaways.

South Africa also is a leader in the global struggle for equality and LGBTQ+ civil rights, having become the first country in the world to constitutionally prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1996 and then legalizing same-sex marriage 10 years later. Though challenges remain, the country is proudly serving LGBTQ+ adventurers whether they are seasoned or first-time visitors to Africa.

For local travel, tourism and hospitality businesses, there are ample opportunities for growing the inbound LGBTQ+ market. And IGLTA is helping to cultivate those opportunities in several ways. Thanks to strong relationships with South African Tourism and Cape Town Tourism, in 2016 IGLTA held its annual convention in Cape Town — marking the first LGBTQ+ business conference on the African continent.

Last year, IGLTA built on that convention’s success by appointing Cape Town’s Martina Barth as our full-time Membership Coordinator–South Africa. Barth is applying her extensive hospitality-industry experience to enhance IGLTA’s member-outreach efforts in South Africa. She also collaborates with Rhino Africa’s David Ryan, IGLTA’s longstanding volunteer ambassador for South Africa.

Though South Africa still has a way to go before it achieves widespread LGBTQ+ social acceptance on par with its ground-breaking laws, with each LGBTQ+ traveller, equality gets closer. It also helps inspire change in other countries, as seen in Botswana’s recent ruling to decriminalize homosexuality. Botswana now counts among 21 African nations where it’s no longer a crime to be an out gay or lesbian citizen – a trend we expect, and hope will continue. That’s why we’re committed to continue promoting LGBTQ+ tourism development in South Africa and beyond! Whether you are selling South Africa, or a business interested in increasing inbound travel to the country, we want to collaborate with you.

John Tanzella

John Tanzella is the President/CEO of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) a global non-profit tourism association. They are Headquartered in Florida, with staff located in Washington D.C., Madrid, São Paulo, Bogota, Paris, London and Cape Town. Prior to joining IGLTA, Tanzella has worked for Delta Air Lines, the Washington D.C. Convention Bureau, and the Human Rights Campaign. He was born in Massachusetts, attended the University of Georgia, lived for three years in Italy and now resides in South Florida. In addition to serving on both the IGLTA Board and the IGLTA Foundation Board, he also serves on two other boards: the National Stonewall Museum & Archives Board and the Advisory Board for Atout-France (the National Tourism Office of France).