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Caribbean LGBTQ Travel and Tourism Symposium Sees Opportunity

Caribbean LGBTQ Travel and Tourism Symposium Sees Opportunity

Bottom Bay,  Barbados - Caribbean LGBTQ Travel and Tourism Symposium Sees Opportunity

The first-ever event wanted to boost LGBTQ+ tourism and took aim at colonial-era laws that criminalize same-sex sexual relations.

The first-ever LGBTQ Travel and Tourism Symposium in the English-speaking Caribbean took place this weekend at the O2 Beach Club and Spa in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The event took place on August 25 and has been heralded as a significant step forward for inclusion and diversity for travel in the region. Sponsors included the British High Commission, Virgin Atlantic, the International LGBTQ Travel Association, O2 Beach Club and Spa, the Argentinian Embassy in Barbados, and Pink Coconuts.

“We truly believe that travel and tourism can open doors and minds,” said John Tanzella, president of the International LGBTQ Travel Association. “When we educate businesses within the tourism and hospitality sector on the importance of embracing diverse travelers, that can create pathways to change throughout local communities, countries, and the region.”

The event centered LGBTQ+ travel in the region and did not shy away from some of the colonial-era laws still on the books in the region that criminalize same-sex sexual relations.

“The Caribbean is a highly tourism-dependent economy, yet many islands continue to grapple with different forms of homophobia and transphobia,” said Zi Donnya Piggott, Caribbean campaign lead at Open for Business and event organizer. “LGBTQ organizations, local communities, and entrepreneurs can find incredible employment and business opportunities through the development of LGBTQ tourism in the Caribbean, fostering sustainable organizations, businesses, and lives.”

Going further on the issue of anti-LGBTQ+ laws, Piggott said LGBTQ+ tourism should be seen as “a catalyst and incentive for inclusive policy, laws, and inclusive societies” in the region.

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