KZN Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association celebrates 20 years of inclusivity

With 20 years of dedicated advocacy and collaboration, KZN Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association reflects on its journey, achievements, and challenges in promoting LGBTQ+ visibility and economic empowerment in KwaZulu-Natal.

With 20 years of dedicated advocacy and collaboration, KZN Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association reflects on its journey, achievements, and challenges in promoting LGBTQ+ visibility and economic empowerment in KwaZulu-Natal.

Published May 1, 2024


The KwaZulu-Natal Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association (KZNGALTA) commemorates a significant milestone in its history, celebrating 20 years of advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity in South Africa's tourism sector.

Founded in January 2004, the KZNGALTA has emerged as a pioneering force in promoting KZN as a welcoming and inclusive destination for LGBTQ+ travellers.

Researchers, Asher & Lyric published the results of a 2023 study which looked at the world's safest and unsafest countries for LGBTQI+ travellers.

The study looked at aspects such as legalisation of same-sex marriages, legal protections against discrimination, adoption rights and transgender identity recognition.

South Africa scored a strong 317 points as the 16th safest country in the world for LGBTQI+ travellers, ahead of several developed nations such as the United States, New Zealand, Finland, Austria and Australia.

Since its inception, KZNGALTA has been at the forefront of driving positive change within the tourism industry, challenging stereotypes, and fostering greater acceptance and diversity.

Through strategic partnerships with local communities, businesses, and tourism stakeholders, KZNGALTA has worked tirelessly to create a supportive environment for LGBTQ+ individuals and businesses in KwaZulu-Natal.

Jason Fiddler, founding chairperson of KZNGALTA, emphasised the importance of genuine inclusivity in tourism marketing efforts.

“Slapping on a rainbow flag, or pinkwashing, is insufficient to have a proper impact for products and destinations seeking to attract LGBT leisure and business travellers,” Fiddler said.

“We were founded in 2004 to help guide the Tourism KZN pink strategy, and over the past 20 years, as the oldest, and to the best of our knowledge, only African LGBTQ+ community tourism organisation, we find ourselves continually educating the travel trade and businesses of both the value and import of appropriately engaging with travellers in the community,” he said.

Over the past two decades, KZNGALTA has made significant strides in promoting LGBTQ+ visibility and economic empowerment.

By participating in travel trade shows, symposiums, and online engagements, the association has raised awareness about the value of LGBTQ+ tourism and its potential for driving economic growth.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has produced two reports on this segment so far. In the 2nd Global LGBT Travel Report in 2017, Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General stated that “LGBTQ+ tourism has experienced a significant increase in recent years.”

“Gradually, this dynamic segment has proven its capacity to become a powerful vehicle for economic development. Yet the positive impacts of (pink) tourism reach far beyond mere economic benefits. Indeed, destinations welcoming LGBTQ+ tourism convey a powerful image of tolerance and respect.”

Nonhlanhla Mkhize, former deputy chairperson of KZNGALTA, reflects on the achievements and challenges faced by the association.

Despite limited financial support, KZNGALTA has successfully implemented inclusive service packages, promoted safer environments, and facilitated income generation for LGBTQ+ businesses.

“It is crazy to realise just how much we as NPOs on the ground have achieved from our partnerships with establishments and individual agents within the tourism industry to bring about positive change, diversity and inclusion to not just the niche market that LGBTIQ+ but all other groups irrespective of identity,” Mkhize said.

Tshukudu 'Rhino' Moepadira, current deputy chair of KZNGALTA, underscores the importance of unity and solidarity within the LGBTQ+ community.

As an ally, Moepadira acknowledges the pivotal role of KZNGALTA in fostering equality, diversity, and economic empowerment for all individuals.

“As we reflect on our journey, we are reminded of the progress we have made, the challenges we have overcome, and the unity we have fostered within the LGBTQ+ community. Together, we will continue to champion equality, diversity, and economic empowerment for all,” he said.

As outgoing chairperson, Fiddler expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve and lead KZNGALTA over the past two decades.

Fiddler remains optimistic about the association's ability to effect positive change in the tourism industry and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights across the African continent.

As KZNGALTA marks its 20th anniversary, the association reaffirms its commitment to championing equality, diversity, and inclusivity in South Africa's tourism landscape.