ETC, IGLTA, Visit Flanders team up to explore LGBTQ Tourism importance for Europe

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On 21 June 2018, the European Travel Commission (ETC), the Flemish tourist board VISITFLANDERS and the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) will host an Educational Forum on LGBTQ Tourism in Europe. The event aims at advancing knowledge on LGBTQ tourism in Europe, discussing the status quo of Europe as a safe and welcoming destination for LGBTQ tourists, investigating new ways to strengthen the region’s attractiveness as a LGBTQ-friendly destination, and understanding the future evolution of LGBTQ travel.

By recognizing the economic and social significance of LGBTQ tourism, tourism businesses and destinations can become a catalyst of change in advancing and tackling social and civil issues of the LGBTQ community and improving the lives of LGBTQ residents and travellers in Europe. The forum will create a space to share knowledge and best practices and to increase social responsibility in the sector; it will provide destinations and businesses with insights and tools to understand and cater for LGBTQ travellers, to build inclusive offers that respond to the true diversity of the segment, and to become ambassadors for human rights and promoters of inclusive policy development.

The discussion will be supported by the new ETC and IGLTA Foundation joint research project on LGBTQ tourism in Europe, which focuses on the current state, prospects and opportunities of LGBTQ tourism in Europe, in view of worldwide trends and expected evolution. Findings from the report will be presented during the conference by its author, Peter Jordan. The report results will provide a framework and support for the forum conversation.

The Forum will take place at the Hilton Brussels Grand Place and will be hosted by Robert Davershot. The event will gather tourism businesses, destination tourism boards on national, regional and local levels, leading global organisations, human rights NGOs and EU policy makers. Speakers include ETC President and VISITFLANDERS CEO Peter De Wilde, Piet De Bruyn, the Council of Europe; Thomas Bachinger, Vienna Tourism Board; Mattej Valencic, Pink Week Slovenia; and Mateo Asensio, Turisme de Barcelona, among others.

The program will continue the day after, 22 June, with a technical visit that will provide insight on the current and prospective tourist offerings dedicated to LGBTQ tourists in Brussels. A guided tour of downtown Brussels and the Rainbow Village will finish with a light lunch at Mothers and Daughters pop-up lesbian bar in the city centre.

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Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.