The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s Annual Global Convention will be held in St. Petersburg, Florida, 4-6 May. The IGLTA Foundation recently selected the recipients for its fifth annual Building Bridges Scholarships, who will receive an all-expenses-paid trip and conference registration.
The program was created to support the next generation of LGBTQ travel professionals (and allies). Scholarships are awarded to small travel business owners in emerging markets and university students pursuing careers in the tourism industry.
“IGLTA’s Building Bridges Scholarship program is a cornerstone initiative of the Foundation’s work, as we look to developing deserving and passionate individuals focused on promoting LGBT tourism,” said Gary Murakami, CMP, CMM, Chair, IGLTA Foundation Board of Directors. “We are delighted to provide the opportunity for these deserving individuals who will shape the minds and hearts of the global community from the connections and education they will receive from attending the convention.”
Meet this year’s Building Bridges Scholarship recipients:
Small Business Owner: Michael Gladwin, Edenvale, South Africa. As the founder of the new 7th Element LGBT Travel, an agency near Johannesburg, Gladwin hopes to build a business for South Africa’s “amazing LGBT community.”
“Our local LGBT communities are starved for a direct, targeted approach to travel,” Gladwin said. “Being at the bottom of the tip of Africa, we aren't easily exposed to the markets that I need to target – and it is often very expensive for us to do so. So the experience at the convention is bound to open many valuable doors that will help me put the South African LGBT market and travel opportunities on the map.”
Student: John Sakakini, Washington, D.C. The MBA student in marketing and tourism/hospitality administration at The George Washington University has served as president of the campus LGBT organization Out for Business and will begin a career in the airline industry when he graduates in May.
“The conference will really give me the ability to network with other members of the LGBT community working in tourism and to see ways that the community and the tourism industry are moving forward, helping to promote to the LGBT consumer and also to enhance the industry as a whole,” Sakakini said.
Scholarship recipients participate in the entire three-day convention program, ensuring they will have the opportunity to network with travel industry leaders from around the world, receive mentorship from professionals in their areas of interest and attend educational sessions. The IGLTA Foundation also supports convention registration for hospitality students in/near each year’s host city.
The IGLTA Foundation thanks Platinum Global Partner Delta Air Lines for generously providing the round-trip flights to St. Petersburg for the 2017 scholarship recipients. For more information, please visit iglta.org/convention and check booking.com for hotels in St. Petersburg