John Tanzella: an exclusive guide to LGBT Travel

The Evolving World of Gay Travel

The gay and lesbian travel community is one of the largest travel market all across the world” says John Tanzella. It is a big business and companies around the world are increasingly promoting LGBT (gay) Tourism.

We met up with John Tanzella, CEO & President of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), to chat about LGBT Tourism and the upcoming IGLTA events.

Hi John, It’s a pleasure for me to know you. Thanks a lot again for your time.

Thanks Giuseppe, the pleasure is mine.

How would you describe IGLTA’s contribution to gay tourism?

Our organization was founded in 1983 as a means for travel agents and gay guest houses work together to ensure their clients have a safe and enjoyable vacation.  Now, 35 years later, we continue to do this and more broadly and globally.  In 1983 our business members were only in South Florida, and we have members in 75 countries and includes travel agents and gay guest houses but also airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, travel writers and publications, hotels, destination tourism offices, etc.

How have m​e​mbership and services grown over the years?

​What is the newest area to our mission is helping our business members to reach LGBT travelers via IGLTA.  We accomplish this with a more consumer friendly website, online promotions, ​specials offerings from our business members to travelers. Soon we will be introducing a twice monthly consumer eNewsletter as well with interviews, special features and destinations of interest.

How does IGLTA manage its global out-reach?

We have an office in Paris, Madrid and Sao Paolo, but also we have business members we refer to as ‘Ambassadors of IGLTA’ in 23 countries.  In Italy, our Ambassador is Alessio Virgili, based in Milan and copied above. ​He assists us there with language translations, having visibility at important tourism fairs and being a liaison for our members there.

Life, Play, Fun

What is your advice to the Italian LGBT tourism industry?

​Italy is a major and important destination for tourism and is growing its presence in the LGBT sector.  ENIT, the National Tourism Board for Italia, is now a partner to IGLTA and is spreading the word that Italy welcomes LGBT travelers.  We would encourage more tourism industry professionals to look at IGLTA for their global entry into this segment of travel and therefore provide more options for our tour operators/travel agents to sell there.

Born this Way

What’s next for IGLTA?

​Our top initiative currently is assisting our business members connect with travelers, bringing them clients for exceptional travel experiences.  Another project we are also very engaged with at the moment is assisting LGBT tourism businesses in emerging destinations​.  Through the IGLTA Foundation ( we are helping market these businesses, which are in locations that it may be illegal to have an LGBT business and certainly difficult from a governmental or corporate support. Lastly our 35th Anniversary Convention is next May 9-12 in Toronto, Canada so lots of planning for that event too.​

Find out more about the IGLTA and John Tanzella here.

Interview by Giuseppe Giulio


Photo Credits: Pixabay

Video: Courtesy of IGLTA

Leila Tavi

Leila Tavi is a journalist specialized in Russian Politics and Culture and PhD c. in Russian History at the University of Vienna under the supervision of Prof. Andreas Kappeler. She studied Political Science in Vienna and Rome, graduating in History of Eastern Europe at Roma Tre University, with Prof. Francesco Guida and a thesis on travel reports about Saint Petersburg by West Europeans at the beginning of the XIX Century. Previously she obtained a degree in Foreign Languages, with a specialization in German Philology at the University of Rome «La Sapienza». Her new book "East of the Danube" is coming soon.