We are thrilled to share some news about the positive impact our clients are having.
The IGLTA Foundation has granted OUT in Colombia the 2021 Impact Award to honor responsible tourism development. The award was launched this year in partnership with The TreadRight Foundation, a non-profit organization created by The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, to recognize a smaller business member of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association whose initiatives encourage sustainable tourism in three key areas: environment, community, and diversity and inclusion.
With all of the recent challenges our industry has faced, it’s important that we celebrate the work tourism businesses are doing to move the world forward in a better way. There are so many small IGLTA business members doing great work under the radar, and with this new award, which we’ll present annually, they’ll get a much-deserved moment in the spotlight. We’re thrilled to recognize OUT in Colombia this year for their efforts. - IGLTAF Board Chair Theresa Belpulsi
OUT in Colombia was founded with the objective of breaking down barriers and enlightening travelers about the amazing cultures and communities in Colombia. That is why we have implemented a set of core principles towards creating a diverse, sustainable, inclusive, and, of course, entertaining tourism experience in Colombia. It’s part of what we call the new definition of all-inclusive. We have designed our tour packages around a mix of culture, nature, nightlife and entertainment, and community, but always customizable so you can travel just as you are. When you travel with OUT in Colombia, you can travel well, travel out, and make a difference all at the same time. Here’s how we’re making that possible:
OUT in Colombia is based in one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, and protecting its natural environment is critical to the long-term sustainability of its tourism industry. Through nature-based tourism, we love teaching tourists about Colombia’s awesome biodiversity and creating awareness of how local and global challenges like climate change endanger the country’s natural wonders. Examples include a visit to the national aviary in Cartagena, raising awareness about the nearly 2,000 bird species that make Colombia their home; a nature hike through the Cocora Valley, a cloud forest that is home to the tallest species of the endangered wax palm tree, Colombia’s national tree, with information about initiatives to restore the forest before it disappears; and coffee farm excursions to highlight environmentally sensitive farming practices, a key component of sustainable food systems.
Supporting Entrepreneurship & Local Economies
OUT in Colombia works with local LGBT+ entrepreneurs to help develop tourism products that become part of our packages and create opportunities to participate in the country’s growing tourism industry. Ensuring the economic benefits of tourism are shared among the community, supporting local economies, is one of our major commitments and is one of the most impactful actions we feel we can take to promote social equity. Examples include CookingOUT Experiences, which feature gay chefs from struggling communities and an Afro-Colombian tour package that celebrates the unique contributions of Colombians of African descent. This includes a visit to Palenque, the first village in the Americas of free Africans who escaped slavery under Spanish rule, where, to this day, locals speak their native African language and hold on to unique customs and traditions.
Alliance building is key to promoting sustainable community-based tourism in Colombia, particularly with national tourism players such as national tourism board ProColombia; CCLGBTCO, Colombia’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce; the Greater Medellín Convention & Visitors Bureau; and Barranquilla’s Tourism Office, among others.
Recently, OUT in Colombia launched a new initiative to help our clients have a direct impact supporting local community causes. We formed a charitable organization called the Cocora Alliance, named after the Cocora Valley, a major draw for tourists to the region. OUT in Colombia has committed to contributing 5% of every dollar paid for a tour package to the Cocora Alliance to support community initiatives in destinations where tourists visit.
Diverse & Sustainable Suppliers
We are building a network of LGBT-friendly and sustainable-minded suppliers (hotels, transportation providers, tour operators, etc.). To kick off the conversation, we invited all of our supplier partners to complete a survey indicating their level of commitment to implementing sustainable & inclusive tourism practices. This has helped us to prioritize working with those suppliers who are already having a positive impact and also to help educate other suppliers about the importance of doing so. We plan to continue this work to build an even more sustainable supplier network.
The Impact Award presentation will be held in Atlanta on Sept. 11 at the IGLTA Annual Global Convention, the premier educational and networking event for LGBTQ+ tourism, and includes US$5,000 in convention benefits and marketing support for the winner.