by Lisa A. Grimaldi | June 26, 2018
Three organizations -- the European Travel Commission, the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association and Visit Flanders -- held the first educational forum on LGBTQ Tourism in Europe on June 21 in Brussels. Among the sessions was a preview of key findings from The Handbook on LGBTQ Tourism in Europe, a joint research project from the ETC and the IGLTA Foundation that will be released in July, which revealed that an open-minded culture topped the list of reasons for travelers to select a destination, and the availability of LGBTQ events was the leading choice for their next visit. 
The forum also addressed ways to make Europe safer and more inclusive for LGBTQ travelers, shared best practices for reaching the diverse segments of this market and discussed the future evolution of LGBTQ tourism in Europe.
"We are proud to be a partner of ETC's first event and publication on the LGBTQ travel market, and to engage many of our European members in this important discussion," said John Tanzella, president and CEO of the IGLTA."While Europe is a global leader for the LGBTQ market segment, not every country is equal in its LGBTQ inclusiveness -- and the research clearly showed that inclusive destinations have the best opportunity to attract diverse visitors."
"More tolerance, respect and understanding are the basic principles for Europe to become the ultimate inclusive tourism destination worldwide," said ETC executive director Eduardo Santander. "We are very proud to see from the results of the study and the discussions today that Europe is seen as a highly desirable travel destination for the LGBTQ segment. But we know that we should not be complacent as there is still room for improvement. ETC remains committed to this goal, and events like the educational forum are a step in the right direction."
Peter De Wilde, CEO of Visit Flanders and president of the ETC, added: "We want to have Flanders evolving toward a society in which sexual orientation will never be a question nor issue. We want the LGBTQ traveler to be treated with integrity and respect. Visit Flanders will continue to break down barriers and will focus on promoting inclusive tourism. We like to use our strongest assets toward these goals like our gastronomy, our Flemish Masters and our cycling culture -- all topics that might trigger and inspire LGBTQ travelers from the entire globe to visit Flanders."