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February 22, 2019

Attack on LGBT Tourism: Why UNWTO, WTTC, PATA and other tourism leaders are slow to condemn?

US President Obama condemned the terror attack in Orlando and invited the nation to come together, so did leaders in the United States including governors, mayors, LGBT community leaders, spiritual leaders, including Islamic clerics. Except the Republican party presidential nominee Donald Trump used this incident as an attack on President Obama and demanded his resignation.

International heads of states are slow in acknowledging the terror attack.

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The murders at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida also was a clear attack on the global travel and tourism industry, but with a twist. This time it hit a minority – the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexuals, known as LGBT.

LGBT represents approximately 10 percent of all global travelers. Considering a billion people travel (UNWTO) LGBT would represent about 100 million people. LGBT travelers usually spend more money on vacation, often travel in low season, but they represent a minority in the eyes of many destinations not ready to welcome them yet with open arms.

After eTN published the original version of this article saying: “Usually leaders representing our global tourism organizations like the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) are very quick issuing press releases condemning terror attacks. Not this time.”

UNWTO did now issue a statement strongly condemning the Florida attack. The statement said: UNWTO expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims, to the American people and the LGBT community worldwide in this difficult moment. The UN Secretary General went on to say and related his full solidarity with the people and the Government of United States of America.” A full solidarity with the LGBT Travel and Tourism community and industry was not yet mentioned, but even the mentioning of LGBT community was an important  step by UNWTO.

PATA, SKAL,The Caribbean Tourism Organization, Vanilla Island Organization, RETOSA, or the South Pacific Tourism Organizaton had not yet responded to the attack. No word from IATA, CLIA, ICAO, ACI, the World Economic Forum, just to name some more.

WTTC as the self announced leader of the private global travel industry still has no official position on LGBT tourism. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has no official stand as well.

Both organization had invested in studies, but when it comes giving LGBT a voice at their summits and conferences, they usually don’t like to touch this “minority”. It’s different with women in travel, both organizations are outspoken and include intense discussions at their events about the role of women in tourism.

Wouldn’t it be time for global travel and tourism industry leaders and the associations they represent to take a stand not only against terror, but a stand for LGBT tourism?
Perhaps one has to follow what money is funding UNWTO and WTTC:

According to gay publication ManAboutWorld and a study supported by Marriott Hotels, the top 5 most dangerous destinations for LGBT travelers are:

-Singapore — Up to two years in jail
-United Arab Emirates — Various punishments, possibly a death sentence.
-Nigeria — Death penalty for men
-Iran — Death penalty
-Saudi Arabia — Banishment, whipping, and death by public stoning

Hopefully this article will trigger an avalanche of statements by our leaders to stand by the LGBT Travel and Tourism Industry and against terror. UNWTO made a soft approach today, what is commendable.

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