The managing director of tour operator Ntsako Travel Africa, Lipian Mtandabari (pictured), has been awarded the first International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) Foundation scholarship to participate in a master’s-level program at CETT, the School of Tourism, Hospitality and Gastronomy at the University of Barcelona.

The virtual one-year program in LGBTQ+ tourism is the first of its kind, giving its participants the opportunity to become leaders of change in tourism through a model based on respect and inclusion. 

Mtandabari, who is from Zimbabwe, established Ntsako Travel Africa in 2018 specifically to develop LGBTQ+ tourism in Africa, with a focus on Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia. He says that moving the narrative forward is difficult without a formal education, despite years of experience in tourism.

“Being a professional specialising in LGBTQ+ tourism on the African continent, a continent where education still plays a great role in the validation of one’s expertise and career proficiency, has many challenges,” Mtandabari said.

“I believe this qualification will allow me to increase my knowledge and skills and to be more relevant to the cause that I am so passionate about day in and day out. I am grateful to be selected and have no doubt that my efforts in advancing LGBTQ+ tourism will now be amplified,” he added.

Supporting dedication to LGBTQ+ tourism in Southern Africa

The scholarship was created with the generous support of Queer Destinations – which describes itself as “the bridge between business, destinations, governments and the LGBTQ+ market” – to benefit a small business member of IGLTA and support CETT’s ground-breaking new master’s course, which launched its first module this month.

The IGLTAF scholarship committee was inspired by Lipian’s story and his dedication to LGBTQ+ tourism. He previously received an IGLTAF David Martin Small Business Fellowship to attend the 2019 IGLTA Global Convention in New York City.

“We congratulate Lipian on being selected for the CETT program for 2022. His application rose to the top because of his passion for positively impacting LGBTQ+ tourism not only in Africa, but globally, and we know he will make great contributions to our industry,” said IGLTAF co-secretary Eddie Canaday, who headed the selection committee. “We received applications from a wonderful group of IGLTA business candidates and we applaud them all for their commitment to LGBTQ+ tourism and hope to offer more opportunities like this in the years to come.”

Serving on the IGLTAF scholarship selection committee are: Eddie Canaday, Visit Salt Lake; Pamela Herr, PH Events; Rika Jean-Francois, ITB Berlin; Dougal Mckenzie, Google; Jim McMichael, Las Vegas CVA; and Gary Murakami, Teneo Hospitality Group.

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