Collaboration takes Hong Kong Polytechnic University tourism student to the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s Annual Global Convention in Toronto
The IGLTA Foundation has partnered with the Pacific Asia Travel Association to provide a unique opportunity for a Hong Kong Polytechnic University tourism student to attend the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s 35th Annual Global Convention, 9-12 May in Toronto. Thanakarn (Bella) Vongvisitsin has been selected to attend the conference, considered to be the premier educational and networking event for the global LGBTQ tourism industry.
“The IGLTA Foundation is honored to partner with such a distinguished organization as PATA to provide opportunities to deserving young individuals in their pursuit to further understand and to strengthen LGBTQ global tourism,” says IGLTA Foundation Board Chair, Gary Murakami, CMP, CMM, of MGM Resorts International. “We believe strongly that access to education and networking opportunities at the IGLTA Annual Global Convention is a pillar of the Foundation’s efforts and working with PATA is a key to our success.”
Vongvisitsin, a Thai national, is working on her PhD at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and is active with ILGA, Youth Voices Count and the Asia Pacific Transgender Network. The conference scholarship provides an all-expenses-paid trip and conference registration to the event.
“It is my greatest honor and opportunity for me to be awarded with PATA/IGLTA Scholarship that fully supports my travel to attend the world’s biggest LGBTQ tourism convention!” Vongvisitsin said. “I am so thrilled to integrate my direct experience as an LGBTQ advocate, a member of the transgender community and my research background in tourism and hospitality management to fully contribute to LGBTQ tourism research. I feel that this scholarship is the kick-off for me, and this chance will help me to learn the best practices from LGBTQ tourism experts.”
This is the sixth year the IGLTA Foundation has offered its Building Bridges Scholarship Program to tourism students and small business owners, and it is the second time the non-profit has collaborated with another organisation on the project. IGLTA and PATA formed a partnership in 2015 and the application process for this joint sponsorship was open to students attending educational institutions that are PATA International members.
“PATA holds the fundamental belief that all travel and tourism stakeholders have an equal voice that should be heard, and we continually work to establish bridges for all people of goodwill from all countries to access and empathise with each other. In addition, we have always been a strong advocate for the development of young tourism professionals within the region. This scholarship highlights our commitment to both these endeavours,” said PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy. “I would like to personally congratulate Bella on being selected for this tremendous opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the travel and tourism industry, and the significant impact gay and lesbian tourism has socially and economically across the globe.”
The successful partnership between PATA and IGLTA has allowed both organisations to share knowledge through research and publications, provide reciprocal participation at events, support mutually agreed advocacy positions, and enhance access for the benefit of members of both organisations.
The IGLTA Foundation Building Bridges Scholarship Program was created to support the next generation of LGBTQ travel professionals (and allies). Scholarship recipients participate in the entire IGLTA 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. For more on the conference, please visit iglta.org/convention.