OAS Hosts Conference: “Roundtable on Economic Prosperity for All: Tourism and the LGBTI Community”

Ambassador Carlos Trujillo addresses the conference - "Roundtable on Economic Prosperity for All: Tourism and the LGBTI Community", at OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., April 5, 2019. (OAS Photo)

On April 5, 2019, the LGBTI Core Group of the Organization of American States (OAS), in collaboration with the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development, the Department of Social Inclusion of the Secretariat of Access to Rights and Equity and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS, hosted a roundtable on economic prosperity for all, focusing on tourism and the LGBTI community.  The gathering was chaired by Ambassador Carlos Trujillo, as president of the OAS LGBTI Core Group.

Remarks by Ambassador Carlos Trujillo

Friday, April 5, 2019

Distinguished colleagues from the diplomatic community and the OAS, panelists, guests in our audience, good morning.

On behalf of the U.S. Mission to the OAS and as Chair of the OAS LGBTI Core Group, I am pleased to welcome you to this important discussion about economic prosperity for all, tourism and LGBTI communities.

Today, representatives visiting from Member States, the private sector, civil society, as well as the OAS Secretariat will highlight efforts to create opportunities for LGBTI tourism and highlight the economic benefits this brings to the Americas.

Taking a broad view on international travel statistics, in 2018, the World Tourism Organization calculated that there were 1.4 billion worldwide international tourist arrivals, with approximately 217 million arrivals in the Americas alone.  It is clear that people around the world are interested in exploring the Americas to see firsthand our many natural and cultural treasures.

I am pleased that Brand USA is here in our audience today, and I wish to highlight their efforts to work with governmental, local, and corporate partners in welcoming LGBTI travelers from around the world to the United States.  Brand USA markets the United States by highlighting our nation’s unique history, iconic locations and neighborhoods, and many festivals and events.

Tourism is big business.  The World Travel and Tourism Council estimated that visitors spent approximately 327 billion dollars on travel and tourism in the Americas in 2018.  It is estimated that LGBTI travel comprised some five percent of this, equivalent to 16 billion dollars.  That is why countries have strong incentives to attract LBGTI visitors.

The key to success is to make LGBTI travelers feel safe, welcome, and fully and justifiably confident that their rights will be respected.  We can attract even more tourism if we forge an inclusive approach for tourism, and as a result, generate even greater economic gains.

So, creating an inclusive environment for LGBTI travelers is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.  Developing this market also deepens our economic and people-to-people ties, reinforces hemispheric security; and promotes rule of law and a region free from discrimination.

Thank you to all for joining us today.

With that, over to you Kim to kick off the panel discussion.