Rika Jean-Francois is the key manager in charge of corporate social responsibility for ITB Berlin. Under her jurisdiction fall also the development and promotion of niche markets, including LGBT travel (the “politically correct” acronym for Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transvestite). Gay and Lesbian travel is one of the fastest growing market segments in the industry with large potential for further growth. On average, gay and lesbian households have a 30 per cent higher purchasing power than their heterosexual counterpart.
For a couple of years ITB Berlin has set up a corner and then part of a hall dedicated to gay and lesbian travel. Since 2011, the show is also active with a LGBT Tourism platform which includes a seminar organised in cooperation with the IGLTA (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association). The event will take place again at the coming ITB Berlin 2013 while a larger LGBT pavilion will be set up in Hall 2-1.
What about the Asian edition of ITB in Singapore? Rika Jean-Francois admits that she ran into trouble to make the concept accepted the first time she wanted LGBT Travel to be present at ITB Singapore. “We tried to have a small gay and lesbian travel corner last year but we were rebuffed by the Singapore Tourism Board. They told us that such a corner cannot be accepted in Singapore”, she explains.