South African Tourism is hosting 19 social media influencers from various countries to showcase South Africa as an LGBTQI-friendly destination.

The group arrived in South Africa on November 14 and will visit tourism spots around the country before departing on November 24. 

Representatives from the LGBTQI community on the trip are from the US, Canada, the UK, The Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and Japan.

“We have created a diverse and geographically spread itinerary for the group,” says Darryl Erasmus, Chief Quality Assurance Officer and the lead for Brand and Visitor Experience at South African Tourism.

Kit LaTigre, Owner of LaTigre Luxury Travel, says so far the trip has educated her regarding the progressive behaviour towards the LGBTQI community, especially politically. “I think the tours of Constitution Hill and the Apartheid Museum combined with the "queer tour" would be a wonderful experience for many. I would ideally create a "rainbow tour" package that would balance the culture, gastronomy, history, and wildlife,” she comments.

The LGBTQI community is significant, Erasmus emphasises, noting that travel spend from this community in the US alone is around US$100 million a year.

South Africa has key motivators that appeal to this community, such as scenic beauty, wildlife, a rich cultural experience, and entertainment, says Erasmus.

“Notably, what counts in South Africa’s favour is that we have one of the most progressive constitutions globally. Ours was one of the first constitutions that included protection for people from a sexual orientation perspective.”

South Africa was among the first countries to legalise same-sex marriage.

“This says that South Africa, as a country and destination, is and aims to be an inclusive country and one that promotes inclusivity and equality. The community when they travel, want to feel safe, feel welcome and don’t want to feel prejudiced,” he says.

The itinerary includes a city lifestyle experience in Gauteng, geographical and wildlife experiences in the Kruger National Park and surrounding Lowveld areas in Mpumalanga, and experiences in Cape Town.

During the Gauteng visit, the representatives were taken to Constitution Hill, where they were addressed by retired Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron. Listening to the speaker was a key highlight for LaTigre.

Traditional attractions, such as Table Mountain in Cape Town will be explored, but Erasmus notes that, more specifically, experiences with food and wine and entertainment will be incorporated, as well as cultural experiences, such a trip to Khayelitsha.

This hosting, while not the first of its kind for the LGBTQI community, is the first on such a specific scale and with such an end in mind, says Erasmus, noting that SA Tourism is aware of the impact that the community can have on arrivals.