Gay and Lesbian Tourism Australia, the peak industry body representing LGBTIQ travel in Australia, commemorated a milestone 25 years of operation at its Annual General Meeting in Sydney this week, and also welcomed a number of influential professionals to its Board of Directors.
President of GALTA, Mario Paez, said that reaching 25 years of representation for the gay and lesbian travel sector reflected that support and interest in reaching LGBTIQ travellers remained strong for tourism destinations and product.
"The role of GALTA in helping to drive professionalism and standards in the tourism industry, along with enabling a connection for visitors to gay-friendly businesses, has been key to our agenda since 1992."
"While much has changed in 25 years, there is still a clear need to create marketing platforms for gay-friendly businesses to directly communicate with LGBTIQ visitors and we are confident that the legalisation of marriage equality in Australia will see a reinvigoration of the tourism industry."
"We were fortunate to have Tiernan Brady, Executive Director of the Equality Campaign, as a guest speaker at our 25 year Gala Dinner and he reinforced the great change that marriage equality signals, not only for same-sex couples but also for Australia and its reputation as a progressive nation."
The GALTA AGM was held in Sydney and attended by members from all over Australia, including former accommodation managers Rod Stringer and Wally Cowin, who were both at the first inception meeting of GALTA in 1992.
Mr Stringer, who continues as a GALTA Board Director, said that the need for a representative body 25 years ago was clear.
"Australia was gaining profile internationally in the LGBTIQ community, largely off the back of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, but it was obvious that many in the industry weren't sure how to work in the sector."
"We had a strong education focus for tourism operators on what it meant to be gay-welcoming, as well as providing marketing avenues for them to reach travellers, such as product expos, advertising and representation at pride events."
Today, GALTA represents hundreds of businesses across Australia and New Zealand and has a strategic relationship with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. It launched a consumer-facing brand in recent years, Visit Gay Australia, and promotes its members to thousands of consumers at annual travel events.
New opportunities are set to arise with same-sex weddings and honeymoons poised to drive tourism and Mr Paez said that GALTA's new Board is ready to work with the industry to cater to this new travel sector.
"We believe there will be many businesses keen to help same-sex couples celebrate their special day and we are excited to be part of this turning point in Australia."
"We welcome some strong new industry professionals to our Board – Logan Heath of Alpha Travel in Melbourne as Vice President, Michelle Grima of Australia PR based in the Blue Mountains and Aaron Little of Sydney Star Observer who will assist GALTA to drive its member servicing and marketing activities."
"This new energy joins an incredible pool of talent on our Board and we are all looking forward to working hard in 2018 and beyond to drive opportunities for our members across Australia and beyond."
GALTA BOARD 2018 – DIRECTORS & REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES
Mario Paez, President
Logan Heath, Vice President
Dennis Basham, Company Secretary
Louise Terry, Media
Michelle Grima, Public Relations
Aaron Little, Membership/Marketing
Rod Stringer, Regional Representative
Jay Horne, Regional Representative
Gerry Bourke, Regional Representative
Alex Thatcher, Regional Representative
David Shoemaker Regional Representative