IGLTA shines a light on the human rights aspect of Tourism with a diverse and captivating panel discussion

Foozoo Travel Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Perera highlights some key observations affecting emerging markets like Sri Lanka

IGLTA 2018 through its programme line-up demonstrated an acute awareness of not only how important LGBTIQ travellers are to the global tourism but also how they are demanding more from their travel destinations. From sustainability practices, disability support, authenticity to acceptance of human rights, LGBTIQ travellers are far more involved and have broad considerations when deciding on where to go. Therefore the panel discussion titled ‘The Intersection of Human Rights and Tourism’ was one of the most well received and powerful moments of the 4 day event in Toronto, Canada.
The panel discussion which was sponsored by AIG was moderated by Fabrice Houdart, Human Rights Officer in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The panel comprised of Kevin Dallas, Chief Executive Officer, Bermuda Tourism Authority, Sean Howell, cofounder & President of Hornet, Helen Kennedy, Executive Director, Eagle Canada Human Rights Trust and Dinesh Perera, Founder of Foozoo Travel, Sri Lanka.
Mr. Fabrice kicked off the panel discussion by highlighting the publication of the Standards of Conduct calling on the private sector to scale up its game in contributing to the much-needed global social change on Human Rights of LGBTI people. He noted that these Standards have already received the support of more than 120 of the largest companies in the world. And this list is fast growing.
Here are a few other extracts from Mr. Fabrice’s opening statement.
“Tourism provides 10% of the world’s GDP, 7% of global trade and as many as one in every 11 jobs globally. Dee (Dinesh Perera) was mentioning yesterday that travel and tourism contributes to 11.6 % of Sri Lanka’s GDP. It is a voice that cannot be ignored and has the power to contribute to expand the historic shift in public attitudes we observed here in North America and need in most places of the World.”
“But business is now increasingly engaged in the fight to extend equality for the LGBT community – we are observing it in Singapore, Uganda or Hong Kong – and, we believe, business today has a critical role to play globally in support of those grassroots movements we see emerging around the world.
At this time of great flux – when huge gains made in many countries in the West, in Latin America and parts of Asia now need to be consolidated and extended, and when LGBT communities are more visible – and in some cases facing pushback – in parts of the world where they were previously relegated to the shadows – we need your help now more than ever to get all companies irrespective of their size and location in this industry to step up in meeting responsibilities and opportunities on the Human Rights of LGBTI people.

Contributing to the panel discussion and responding to questions, Dinesh Perera of Foozoo Travel Sri Lanka gave credit to all the many civil society personalities who have chipped away at the walls that have held LGBTIQ community of Sri Lanka captive. He mentioned that this work continues with added energy and is more and more supported by business enterprises that see it as the right thing to do. And as a business organization that is LGBTIQ owned and catering to that segment, he highlighted their responsibility, fears and complexities in doing business and supporting the community at the same time.

Dinesh also highlighted work done by Foozoo Travel to make the LGBTIQ story more visible. These include openly marketing itself as an LGBTIQ friendly company, enrolling staff, providing training and engaging with other organizations and businesses connected to or supporting LGBTIQ businesses. He also brought attention to how this topic has been politicized, confused and grossly misrepresented by numerous groups. This he said continues to challenge them personally and as a business as the climate towards LGBTIQ persons and work can rapidly turn ugly.

Meanwhile, Kevin Dallas highlighted the international fallout for Bermuda Tourism as a result of changes to the same sex marriage ban. Sean Howell of Hornet touched on how his app is not just bringing community members together but also making positive changes and providing protection for communities in unsafe areas. Helen Kennedy brought in a lot of perspectives on staying engaged with the many stakeholders and staying focused even if it means that it will all take a lot more time.

Speak to Dinesh Perera or Foozoo Travel to transform your business to an LGBTIQ friendly one. Their consultancy platform offers practical and engaging means to educate the management, staff, partners and all stakeholders on being LGBTIQ friendly, accepting and nurturing.


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