SA flight attendant wants to bring LGBT tourism to the forefront

Vulthari Ndlovu, director at Ntsako Travel Africa, which specialises in tours for the LGBT+ community.
Vulthari Ndlovu is a flight attendant that wants to make sure that South Africa is the tourist destination for all LGBT+ travellers. After spotting a gap in the tourism industry for the queer community, he and his business partner, Lipian Mtandabari, founded Ntsako Travel Africa last year.

Ntsako Travel Africa is the premier Pan African LGBT+ travel company that values the core philosophy of promoting equality through travel and advocating for LGBT+ inclusive service in the hospitality, travel and tourism industry.

Ndlovu was at the Internationale Tourismus-Borse (ITB) world travel trade show, in Berlin, Germany to speak about how his passion for travel led him to realise that pink dollars is a lucrative business in South Africa.

Ndlovu said that he met Mtandabari in Ghana, who at the time had been running his own tourism business for the LGBT+ community which he began in Zimbabwe in 2012. The two soon got together and decided to focus on promoting LGBT+ tourism in South Africa, where there are no legislative restrictions against the LGBT+ community.

In October 2018, Ntsako Travel Africa was officially registered and he is now at the ITB to promote the offering and to strike partnerships which will be beneficial for the business.

The ITB panellists held a discussion about the challenges in the LGBT+ tourism space, where it was revealed that most tourist who identify as LGBT+ are looking for travel destinations where they know they are protected by legislation.

Dr Stephan Gellrich of the LGBT+ network PRIDE at Accenture, said spending power of the LGBT+ community, from across the world combined, is larger than Germany’s GDP. 

However, those who spend their money want to be really sure that they are doing so in an environment where they feel safe. Many LGBT+ tourists choose not to go to destinations if they feel there is a risk that they will land in legal trouble because of their sexual orientation.

Ndlovu expressed similar concerns, explaining that that LGBT+ travellers often just stop at Cape Town, and do not realise there is more in SA to explore. He and Mtandabari want to promote and inform these tourists that they will be safe in other parts of SA.

To their surprise, he has also had to explain to tourists that they can have a wedding ceremony and honeymoon in SA.

“People are shocked to learn that. That’s how I realised there was a gap [in the market]. Who wouldn’t want to get married and take a photo with elephants in the background?”

Ndlovu added that he and Mtandabari would start promoting other countries on the continent as laws progress. “The main aim is to guarantee clients will be safe”.