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10 LGBTQ trailblazers changing the face of global travel

Meet the movers and shakers who form the travel category in the inaugural Attitude 101 list.

By Will Stroude

The inaugural Attitude 101 list is here, and we’re shining a rainbow-coloured spotlight on 100 LGBTQ trailblazers – and one Person of the Year – whose contributions to their fields are changing the world as we know it.

After a difficult year, it’s time to look firmly to the future as we celebrate queer accomplishments from across a range of sectors.

Attitude 101 consists of 10 categories, each containing 10 individuals, and importantly forgoes any kind of ranking; instead highlighting the collective power of our community’s individual achievements.

Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey appears on the cover of the Attitude 101 February issue, out now

The categories are as follows: Science, technology, engineering & mathematics; Fashion and design; Sport; Third Sector & Community; The Future (25 and Under), supported by Clifford Chance; Media and Broadcast; Financial & Legal; Arts & Entertainment. Plus a very special Person of the Year, whose achievements in 2020 have set a new precedent for what’s possible for LGBTQ people.

Travel, as we’ve probably come to appreciate more in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, has the ability to unite people across the globe, educating and enlightening both visitors and hosts. 

For LGBTQ people, travel can come with complications and moral dilemmas, with drastic differences in LGBTQ rights often shaping how we explore the world around us. 

The 10 LGBTQ trailblazers featured in the Attitude 101 Travel category are all individuals who are working to facilitate better environments for LGBTQ communities on the ground and for those wishing to expand their own horizons abroad.

Jurriaan Teulings – Photographer and travel journalist 

Jurriaan is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer, but he doesn’t do ‘gay’ travel.

As the globe-trotting snapper explains in the Attitude 101 February issue, whether in Iran, Colombia or Jordan, he travels ‘while gay’, which is a different thing entirely. And, if we say so ourselves, something he does better than anyone else.

John Tanzella – President and CEO of IGLTA 

Founded in 1983, IGLTA, the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association, is the world’s leading network of LGBTQ+-friendly tourism businesses with members in over 75 countries. At the helm of the organisation for 15 years, John Tanzella is predicting a busy 2021, telling Attitude, “We’re elevating all of our member promotion efforts in 2021 because we know how much all travel businesses are hurting.”

Atlanta will host the IGLTA’s 37th international business convention in 2021, and their charitable arm, the IGLTA Foundation, will work on increasing LGBTQ+ travel to India and raise awareness about the needs of transgender travellers.

Alan Joyce – CEO and MD for Qantas

In 1996, Alan Joyce left Dublin for the sunnier shores of Australia. It was not long before he joined Qantas, working his way up to CEO of the company in 2008.

Known for not mincing his words or opinions, in 2017, he was one of the leading voices campaigning for same-sex marriage in Australia. Joyce was making a speech when a disgruntled farmer took to the stage to assault him with a lemon meringue pie to the face.

In 2020, he cut his salary in response to the COVID crisis and he has taken on anti-vaxxers by proposing a ‘no jab, no fly’ policy.

Aron Le Fèvre – Director of human rights at Copenhagen 2021, a joint celebration of World Pride and Euro Games in Copenhagen & Malmö

We always get excited for a World Pride, but next year’s event in Denmark will sit under the Copenhagen 2021 umbrella, which also includes the EuroGames, an arts and culture programme and an LGBTQ Human Rights Forum.

Director of human rights at Copenhagen 2021, Aron Le Fèvre has secured Denmark’s Crown Princess and Prime Minister to speak at the Forum. The legacy for the event will be the Øresund Declaration, which hopes to do for international LGBTQ rights what The Paris Agreement did for climate change. Actually, let’s hope it does a lot more…

Arnaud Champenois – Senior vice president, global head of brand, marketing and communications for Belmond

Travel is all about the journey, and with Belmond you can choose from trains, cruises and safaris to luxury accommodation. It is Arnaud Champenois’s job to get that message out and he has also made it his mission that Belmond embraces their LGBTQ clientele, helping to create the company’s LGBTQ advisory board in 2016.

Arnaud told Attitude, “We have always been committed to creating environments where diversity is highly valued and we want everybody to feel included in everything we do, in everything we say and the people we employ.”

Juha Jarvinen – CCO of Virgin Atlantic

In 2019, Attitude partnered with Virgin Atlantic on the UK’s first Pride Flight to New York City to celebrate the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. While 2020 has held no such highs, the airline has done its best for its customers.

“We have introduced flexibility to bookings, allowing customers to change dates, destinations and even the name on the ticket, as well as adding COVID insurance cover to all bookings,” Juha tells Attitude.

“We are [also] working with Open for Business to show the economic impact that anti-LGBTQ+ laws have on countries around the world and how these laws restrict tourism and limit growth.”

Lipian Bongani Mtandabari – Director of Ntsako Travel Africa

In 2012, at the age of 17, Lipian Bongani Mtandabari left his small town in Zimbabwe for the capital Harare to launch his first travel company, Phezulu Safaris. Then, in 2018, he moved to South Africa to start Ntsako Travel Africa, a Pan African travel company catering exclusively to the LGBTQ market.

In 2021, Ntsako will launch new travel packages to include highlights of the ‘queer lifestyle’ within South Africa and beyond. To help the African tourism industry, Lipian will lead LGBTQ diversity and inclusion masterclasses for tourism service providers on the continent.

Melissa Tilling CEO for Charitable Travel

Melissa Tilling is one of the bravest women in the travel biz, “I’m proud, as a transgender woman, that we launched our social enterprise at the start of Pride month in the middle of a pandemic,” she told Attitude.

“The principles of Pride in terms of self-affirmation, dignity and equality are entrenched in our social purpose, as is helping a wide range of charities rebuild and better help their beneficiaries.” And that is what her travel agency, Charitable Travel, hopes to do by donating all profits to good causes. Customers can support their chosen charity with a donation equal to 5 per cent of the holiday price every time they book

Liam Campbell – Editor and chief photographer for Elska magazine

Five years ago, Liam Campbell created Elska — the word is Icelandic for love — a bi-monthly magazine that sees him meet and photograph the queer men of a single city in each issue.

In 2020, he managed to shoot Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, and he ventured to Belfast in July for his most recent issue. He also re-released Elska’s most popular edition — Reykjavík. While Liam is more comfortable behind the camera, he hopes to bring out the beauty and confidence in everyone, telling Attitude, “My goal is always to try to prove that all different kinds of people and bodies are beautiful and worthy of our attention.” 

Jo Rzymowska – Vice president and MD for Celebrity Cruises

In her 15 years at Celebrity Cruises, which is part of the Royal Caribbean Group, Jo has been instrumental in making the brand as LGBTQ-inclusive as possible.

Celebrity hosted the first legal same-sex marriage at sea, celebrates Pride at Sea every June, includes diversity and inclusion modules in staff training and has created Anchored in PRIDE, an employee resource group. In response to COVID, the company formed a “Healthy Sail Panel”, producing open-sourced recommendations for the industry to utilise for the healthy return to sailing.

See the full list of 101 LGBTQ trailblazers in the Attitude 101 February issue, out now to download and to order globally.

Subscribe in print and get your first three issues for just £3, or digitally for just over £1 per issue.