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EQUAL Africa 2022 – Don’t pinkwash our pride!


Africa Travel Week






EQUAL Africa 2022 – Don’t pinkwash our pride!

Cape Town, 13 April 2022 – If you have ever wanted to tap into the LGBTQ+ market, the time is now – that’s the message at EQUAL Africa 2022. Held annually at Cape Town International Convention Centre alongside WTM Africa, the one-day show is dedicated to the LGBTQ+ traveller.

This year’s live event kicked off on 11 April at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), delivering a full day of networking opportunities and panel discussions unpacking marketing best practices to cater to this ever-growing market.

“EQUAL Africa has become an integral component of Africa Travel Week, providing a specialised platform for travel suppliers and buyers targeting the LGBTQ+ community,” says Martin Hiller, Creative + Content Director: Travel, Tourism and Creative Industries at RX Africa.

“Our official partnership with the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) allowed us to welcome global experts to share their insights and strategies on attracting these travellers in an inclusive way.”

Speakers invited to present this year included LoAnn Halden, Vice President: Communications for the IGLTA, Micheal Gladwin, Managing Director of Afrigay Travel, and Jason Fiddler, Founder of KZNGLTA.

Say no to pinkwashing

A central theme highlighted at the show was that of pinkwashing, and how to avoid it. Pinkwashing (or rainbow-washing) occurs when a business publicly tries to show support for the LGBTQ+ community while privately doing very little to support and assure these travellers.

“It’s the equivalent of slapping a pride flag onto a company material, without fully understanding the needs and desires of this market segment,” says Michael Gladwin, MD, Afrigay Travel. “To us, that’s a tactic, not a strategy, and can come across as offensive.”

With a focus on tourism recovery, EQUAL Africa discussions cautioned travel retailers and brands against insincerity while actively trying to tap into this market segment.

“If marketing campaigns don’t intrinsically align with your company values or are seen as a once-a-year, insincere nod, LGBTQ+ consumers may see them as hypocritical pandering,” adds Thami Kotlolo, Founder: The Feather Awards.

“It’s important for brands to move towards truth. Brands shouldn’t pinkwash, but rather lean towards communicating authentically and offering more visibility, not only during Pride Month in June or October. I want to spend my money where I’m valued and feel seen.”

Market with intentionality

So, how do you design a marketing strategy or travel experience that doesn’t pinkwash? With intention and sincerity, according to the experts.

“Being intentional with travel spend can make a huge difference in the long run,” Kotlolo adds. “If you’re dedicated to succeeding with this market, it’s time to think long-term and invest in making sure you include the right people in the conversation. Consult an expert. Ask a queer person how they want to be represented.”

Meg Ten Eyck, CEO of Every Queer, further advises companies to join LGBTQ+ organisations and actively engage in training with their teams: “Many businesses task it to the token gay guy in the office. He might not want to do it, or be able to do it. He’s just gay – he’s not a marketer.”

During the EQUAL Africa panel discussion on How to earn Brand Loyalty from the LGBTQ+ traveller, an important factor emphasised is how the LGBTQ+ traveller community encompasses people from all over the world with diverse backgrounds and a vast spectrum of preferences and interests.

“Transgender travellers – we’re all different and travel differently,” adds lifestyle journalist, Kwin Mosby. We’re not often represented, and we’re not well represented, especially in luxury travel. If you want us to engage with your products, business owners will need to take leadership to attract us.”

The bottom line? It’s all about defining your strategy, according to Gladwin. “If you want to target LGBTQ+ travellers, you and your staff need to understand the culture and how to integrate it into your messaging. Make an effort to gain a deeper understanding – rather than just sticking a pride flag onto your marketing,” he concludes.

In case you missed it, the programme for EQUAL Africa 2022 included the following live sessions:

Welcome to EQUAL Africa 2022

Councillor Rob Quintas, LoAnn Halden

How to Make LGBTQ+ Travel Truly Transformative

Peter Jordan

Spotlight: KZN Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association

Jason Fiddler

A lesson on authenticity: A Radisson RED case study

Brett Delport, Leonie Andereya

Challenges of LGBTQ+ African travel and how to overcome them

Jason Fiddler, Siya Khumalo, Fundi Ndaba

How to earn Brand Loyalty from the LGBTQ+ traveller

Michael Gladwin, Kwin Mosby, Meg Ten Eyck, Thami Kotlolo

In conversation with Lipian Mtandabari, Director: Ntsako Travel Africa

Lipian Mtandabari, LoAnn Halden

Everyone Welcome: LGBTQ+ sensitivity and sales training for tourism and hospitality brands

Michael Gladwin

Beyond 2022: Trends for LGBTQ+ Travel

Peter Jordan, Lipian Mtandabari, Martina Barth, David Ryan

– ENDS –

Issued by: Big Ambitions

Contact: Dorine Reinstein

Tel: +27 83 278 8994


World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents, generating more than $7.5 billion of industry deals. The events are:

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. More than 6,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors.

Next event: Monday 11 to Wednesday 13 April 2022 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town

About ATW Connect: Africa Travel Week’s digital arm, is a virtual hub packed to the seams with interesting content, industry news and insights, and the opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of topics in our new monthly webinar series. All with the aim to keep all of us in the travel and tourism industry connected. ATW Connect focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 29th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2021 showcased over 1,300 exhibiting companies from 62 countries across nine halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, with visitors from more than 140 countries over the four days. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #IdeasArriveHere

Next in-person event: Sunday 8 to Wednesday 11 May 2022, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai

Next virtual event: Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 19th May 2022

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2022. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ATM Virtual, ILTM Arabia, Arival Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, as well as Travel Forward. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country summits.

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating over £3.71 billion in travel industry contracts.

Next live event: Monday 7 to 9 November 2022 at ExCel London

London Travel Week, brought to you by WTM London, is the one-stop-shop for event hosts and visitors to be able to shape the next 12 months of travel together. The festival of events supports the global travel and tourism industry through capturing invaluable news and enhancing industry connections.

Next event: Friday 4 November – Friday 11 November 2022 – Around London

WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub.

About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

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