IGLTA hosts its largest convention outside of North America, and Curve took home honours.

The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) held the first-ever conference in Madrid, Spain for the LGBT travel association, attracting delegates from 32 countries. From May 8-10, IGLTA’s most globally diverse convention outside of North America welcomed approximately 275 delegates to the host city of Madrid for networking, education, advocacy for LGBT global tourism—and a little fun in the Spanish sun.

Attendees were welcomed to Madrid by a high-ranking Spanish dignitary including Isabel Borrego, Secretary of State for Tourism/President of TURESPAÑA; José Francisco García, General for Cultural Heritage at Madrid City Council; Carmen Gonzalez, Vice Minister of Tourism and Culture for the Region of Madrid; and Doña Ana Isabel Mariño Ortega, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Culture for the Community of Madrid.

The opening plenary session included a warm greeting from James Costos, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain and Principality of Andorra, and a keynote speech from David Scowsill, President/CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council.

The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association is the leading member-based global organization and represents 75 countries, dedicating itself to LGBT tourism. IGLTA is an Affiliate Member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization and in 2013, signed on to ECPAT’s Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct to prevent child exploitation.

“Spain is a longtime partner to IGLTA and the LGBT tourism community,” said IGLTA President/CEO John Tanzella. “It was an amazing conference that showcased Spanish support for gay travel and resulted in…the most media attention in our 31-year history.”

For three days, delegates gathered at networking events and educational sessions covering topics such as same-sex honeymoons, LGBT social media strategies, the history of gay rights and gay travel, and how to reach the lesbian travel market, a breakout session that was moderated by Curve editor-in-chief Merryn Johns.

The IGLTA Convention is also noted for its annual awards, which recognize leaders in the LGBT travel sphere. Curve editor-in-chief Merryn Johns, who has championed lesbian travel, culture and women’s rights through journalism and as a speaker at global conferences, was awarded the IGLTA Media Honors for 2014.

In her acceptance speech, Johns recapped her 15-year history in global lesbian media and shared with the audience her experience of “coming out” as an LGBT travel enthusiast, thanking IGLTA for supporting lesbian visibility and awareness in tourism.

Other awards, selected by the IGLTA board of directors from the association’s membership of businesses in more than 75 countries, went to communications expert Bob Witeck, who has worked for over 20 years with companies wishing to reach LGBT households; Alfonso Llopart, events coordinator and founder of Spain’s LGBT magazine; and IGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, created in 1978.

“The honorees this year are a stellar group who have been active in the LGBT space for many years,” said IGLTA Chair Dan Melesurgo. “It’s especially rewarding to see the diversity of work that these individuals or organizations represent. Their dedication has helped shape a more accepting and welcoming world of LGBT people.”

The 2015 IGLTA Convention will be held in Los Angeles.