LGBTQ+ Tourism Changemakers Part 4: Interview with Martina Barth

We're diving into the fabulous world of LGBTQ+ tourism with none other than Martina Barth from IGLTA. In case you didn't know, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) is like the ultimate rainbow GPS, guiding travellers to safe and welcoming destinations since 1983. So, grab your safari hat and let's get into the good stuff – our exclusive chat with the woman championing equality and inclusivity in the travel industry as the final edition of our "LGBTQ+ Tourism Changemakers'' blog series.

Martina-2-scaled.jpg Martina shares how her work with IGLTA impacts LGBTQ+ tourism across Africa, Image Credit: Alfred&

Meet Martina Barth

With over 25 years of hospitality experience, leading top hotel groups to reigning as Chair of SATSA Western Cape, Martina Barth is a seasoned professional with a rainbow-coloured T-shirt to prove it. Her mission? To add an extra sparkle to LGBTQ+ tourism across Africa. And with IGLTA's dazzling network spanning over 80 countries, they ensure our fabulous community can explore the world without a hitch.

What does it mean to you to be the African representative of IGLTA?

At IGLTA, we believe in opening hearts and minds through the wonder of travel. Being the African representative of IGLTA means acting as a bridge between cultures, advocating for inclusivity and safety, promoting economic opportunities, and striving for a more inclusive and accepting travel industry worldwide.

My role focuses on amplifying African LGBTQ+ voices globally, ensuring they're heard and represented in travel discussions. Global connections are essential, and bringing our industry together is what makes my heart sing. It's important to forge strong collaborative efforts to promote safe and welcoming travel destinations for LGBTQ+ travellers within Africa.

IMG_5072.jpg Our team got to hang out with Martina (second from right) at WTM Africa

What effective advocacy strategies or initiatives have shown promise to promote LGBTQ+ rights and safety in Africa?

The IGLTA Foundation, the association's philanthropic arm, is crucial in uplifting and implementing effective advocacy strategies across Africa. A key example is EQUAL Africa, a program that brings together travel suppliers, buyers, media, and lifestyle brands targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

This annual event, held during WTM Africa's Africa Travel Week, fosters dialogue and collaboration among LGBTQ+ travel and tourism professionals, promoting inclusive travel experiences across the continent.

This event is crucial in promoting inclusive travel experiences and supporting LGBTQ+ small business leaders across the continent. Each year, the foundation also sponsors an LGBTQ+ African travel leader to attend EQUAL Africa, providing mentorship, funding, and a complimentary IGLTA membership to aid their professional development in LGBTQ+ tourism.

rhino-africa-safaris-at-wtm-africa-2024-13.jpg Can we have a moment to froth over these fabulous changemakers?

What steps do you believe South Africa should take next to further strengthen its position as a top LGBTQ+ tourism destination and ensure the safety and satisfaction of these travellers?

South Africa has made significant strides in LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity. However, there's always room for progress, and here are some additional ideas.

Promote LGBTQ+ tourism beyond Cape Town

Showcase the diverse offerings of other South African provinces and cities that cater to LGBTQ+ travellers.

Support LGBTQ+-owned businesses

Collaborate with IGLTA's network of travel professionals across Africa. This network can provide valuable insights and connections to promote a broader range of inclusive experiences.

Implement sensitivity training for tourism staff

Ensure hospitality professionals are equipped with skills to provide all travellers with a welcoming and inclusive experience. Encourage South African properties to participate in the IGLTA Accredited™ program. This internationally recognised program provides a road map for hotels and accommodations to create a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ guests.

WTMA23-1-1500x500.jpg Sharing the stage at WTM as an IGLTA representative, Image Credit: Africa Travel Week

What role do you think sensitivity and diversity training play in the hospitality industry, and how can the industry embrace this?

Sensitivity and diversity training in the hospitality industry is crucial for several reasons, especially when considering the needs of LGBTQ+ travellers who prioritise safety and a welcoming environment when selecting destinations.

The bottom line is that people want to feel comfortable throughout their stay. When you can accomplish that, you create a truly memorable and positive travel experience for all your guests.

What does Pride Month mean to you, and what do you think its impact is in 2024?

For me, Pride Month is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community's rich history, resilience, and achievements in the fight for equality. It's a reminder of the progress made but also a call to action for the work that remains.

In 2024, Pride Month remains a powerful symbol of unity, visibility, and the ongoing pursuit of LGBTQ+ liberation. Even in regions where Pride celebrations are not widespread, this month serves as a beacon of hope and a reminder that the fight for equality is a global one.

IGLTA and its members are vital in advancing LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity in Africa while strengthening the continent's position as a desirable LGBTQ+ travel destination.

LGBTQ-rainbow-flags-being-waved-in-the-air-at-a-pride-event.jpg A unified voice for equality

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