The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) President/CEO John Tanzella and IGLTA Foundation Board Chair Charlie Rounds participated in a February 20 roundtable discussion at the U.S. Department of State headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The event, "Engaging U.S. Citizen LGBT Travelers,” highlighted how the Bureau of Consular Affairs provides assistance, resources and information to U.S. citizens who are traveling abroad, through U.S. embassies, consulates and online.
All Americans traveling abroad are viewed as the State Department’s responsibility, but research has shown that the LGBT community travels at a higher frequency and often to destinations that have anti-gay laws on the books. The Bureau of Consular Affairs saw the need to proactively provide destination information for LGBT travelers.
Panelists included representatives from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor, and the White House. Reporters from LGBT and mainstream media outlets also attended.
“IGLTA was a natural partner for the roundtable event because of its reputation and long-standing history as one of the travel industry’s leading experts and supporters of LGBT travel, “ said event organizer Esperanza M. Tilghman with the Bureau of Consular Affairs. “Through our collaboration with Mr. Rounds, Mr. Tanzella, and Mr. Bob Witeck (of Witeck Communications), our office was able to connect to representatives from the leading travel agencies, mega-hotel chains, and media professionals. We hope to continue our relationship with IGLTA as the Bureau of Consular Affairs continues its mission of keeping U.S. citizen travelers well-informed, and connected to the latest and most accurate travel information.”
U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad are encouraged to visit www.travel.state.gov, which now includes an information page specifically designed for LGBT travelers, and use the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at www.travel.state.gov/step to receive the latest travel updates.“I was honored to be a speaker at this event and very proud to have IGLTA as a featured participant,” said Tanzella. “Our global member-based organization works in tandem with many governmental and non-governmental organizations, and adding the U.S. State Department as an ally is a huge step in our efforts to make the world a more welcoming place for LGBT travelers.”