Cape Town - Small business owner Michael Gladwin of Edenvale near Johannesburg has been chosen as one of only two scholarship recipients to attend the annual general meeting and conference of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA).
It will take place in St Petersburg, Florida, in the US from 4 to 6 May.
Gladwin is the founder of the new 7th Element LGBT Travel. He hopes to build a business for what he calls South Africa’s “amazing LGBT community".
“Our local LGBT communities are starved for a direct, targeted approach to travel. 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," said Gladwin.
"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.”
Gladwin told Fin24 that he sees attending the convention as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"We are stuck in the middle of nowhere and to be able to create opportunities for the LGBT environment is the exciting part for me - to have the network to make it easy and accessible for us from an inbound and outbound point of view," he explained.
He said he has "a zillion ideas" and packages he wants to create to do fun and amazing stuff. He also wants to provide opportunities for the local community to travel abroad.
"It is so important to find the right LGBT orientated offering to focus, for instance, on the honeymoon environment. I want to make it accessible for all of us," said Gladwin.
According to the organisers, the convention programme 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 programme is a cornerstone initiative of the IGLTA Foundation’s work, as we look to developing deserving and passionate individuals focused on promoting LGBT tourism,” said Gary Murakami, chair of the IGLTA Foundation's 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.”Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: Fin24’s top stories