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IGLTA Foundation partners with Pacific Asia Travel Association for conference scholarship

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The IGLTA Foundation has partnered with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) 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, set for May 9-12 in Toronto, Canada.

Collaboration takes Hong Kong Polytechnic University tourism student to the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s Annual Global Convention in Toronto, Canada

Thanakarn (Bella) Vongvisitsin has been selected to attend the conference, which is considered to be the premier educational and networking event for the global LGBTQ tourism industry.

“The IGLTA Foundation is honoured to partner with such a distinguished organisation such as PATA to provide opportunities to deserving young individuals in their pursuit to further understand and to strengthen LGBTQ global tourism,” said 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.”

Thanakarn (Bella) Vongvisitsin, a Thai national, is working on her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The conference scholarship provides an all-expenses-paid trip and conference registration to the event.

“It is my greatest honour 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,” said Ms Vongvisitsin. “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 Programme 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.”

In 2017, PATA’s activities focused on the Young Tourism Professional (YTP), stressing the importance of making substantial investments in developing and enhancing the knowledge and skills of students engaged in tourism, hospitality management and related degree courses. The Association also highlighted the essential need to develop and implement effective training platforms for YTPs as they seek to make career progression and skills enhancement. During the year, PATA launched the YTP Student membership category, providing a platform for YTP student members to connect to PATA’s broad industry network.

“We are delighted to learn that Ms Bella Vongvisitsin is winner of this year’s PATA-IGLTA Foundation Sponsorship,” said Professor Kaye Chon, Dean, Chair Professor and Walter Kwok Foundation Professor in International Hospitality Management, School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. “While it is a tribute to her talent, dedication and hard work, we must thank PATA for the opportunities given to its member institutions. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management is proud to be a PATA member and has been supportive of the Association’s many initiatives in advancing global tourism development.”

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. As part of the partnership, IGLTA will be offering student discount rates to join the IGLTA 35th Annual Global Convention. Students interested in attending should email YTP@PATA.org.

Furthermore, PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy will also be delivering the keynote address at the LGBT+ Travel Symposium in Bangkok, Thailand from June 29-30. The event is organised by Out There Publishing, while supporting partners include PATA and IGLTA.

The IGLTA Foundation Building Bridges Scholarship Programme was created to support the next generation of LGBTQ travel professionals (and allies). Scholarship recipients participate in the entire IGLTA convention programme, 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.