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Actions to Prioritize LGBTQ+ Traveler Safety and Inclusion

Actions to Prioritize LGBTQ+ Traveler Safety and Inclusion

Prioritizing the comfortability, inclusion and safety of LGBTQ+ travelers.

According to 2023 research from, 78% of LGBTQ+ travelers feel more comfortable traveling due to the increased inclusivity of the travel industry. Despite this, LGBTQ+ travelers continue to face many challenges, with 80% of LGBTQ+ travelers reporting that they must consider their safety and wellbeing as an LGBTQ+ person when choosing a destination. Some even feel pressured to change their behavior or appearance to avoid judgment or unwanted interactions.

To learn more about considerations group travel professionals should make when it comes to prioritizing the comfortability, inclusion and safety of LGBTQ+ travelers, we chatted with John Tanzella, President and CEO of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association.

Tanzella notes that LGBTQ+ travelers are a valuable and growing segment of the tourism industry, but acknowledges the unique challenges they face, given that so many countries have laws that either fail to protect them or actively discriminate against them.

"We know that safety is a top priority for LGBTQ+ travelers when making travel plans," Tanzella said. "Making people feel safe and welcome goes a long way."

There are several ways, Tanzella explains, group travel professionals can ensure their LGBTQ+ clients are safe and have a great time on their trip. He recommends that professionals:

Ask questions.
"No one expects everyone to know everything, but people can tell when you are trying," he said, adding that LGBTQ+ travelers come from a variety of backgrounds and have a wide range of needs and concerns. "It's important to ask questions to learn more about your LGBTQ+ travelers so you can create a trip that's enjoyable and inclusive for everyone. For example, ask about their preferred pronouns, so you can ensure your suppliers address them correctly."

Be authentic.
"LGBTQ+ travelers can spot a fake from a mile away; be genuine in your interactions with them and let your personality shine through," Tanzella explained. "LGBTQ+ travelers want to feel like they are traveling with friends—not with someone who just wants their money. If you're not truly interested in uplifting LGBTQ+ travelers and helping them to have great experiences, the market is not for you."

Do your research.
"Before you book a trip or make any recommendations, research the businesses you are considering to make sure they are LGBTQ+ welcoming and understand how laws in each destination could impact your LGBTQ+ clients," he said. "Some LGBTQ+ travelers will travel to countries with challenging laws and others won't, but have the information at hand to help them make informed decisions."

Be proactive.
"Don't wait for your LGBTQ+ travelers to come to you with concerns or questions—be proactive about addressing their needs," Tanzella urged. "For example, provide them with a list of LGBTQ+ owned and/or welcoming businesses in the destination or give them a heads up about any potential safety hazards."

If concerns arise while on a trip, Tanzella recommends listening to the person who raised the concern.

"Let them know that you take their concerns seriously and that you are committed to making the situation right," he said, noting group travel professionals should also ask clarifying questions. "This will help you to understand the nature of the concern and to identify the best way to address it."

Of course, beyond learning more about any concerns, move to take action to have it addressed.

"This may involve anything from moving the person to a different room to changing the itinerary to providing additional support," Tanzella said.

Operators and trip leaders should think critically about lived experiences other than their own. This means being aware of how particular factors may affect different people.

"For example, a transgender person may feel uncomfortable using a public restroom that does not match their gender identity," Tanzella explained. "By being responsive and understanding, operators and trip leaders can help to ensure that all of their travelers have a safe and enjoyable experience."

In 2023, IGLTA launched their own Accreditation program, which gives LGBTQ+ travelers confidence that they will be safe and welcomed at hotels that have earned this accreditation.

"It also helps to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ travel issues and best practices among hospitality businesses, while encouraging hotels to go beyond the performative and to make a real commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion," Tanzella said.

Learn more about the accreditation program at

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.

This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb '24 issue of Groups Today.


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