What LGBT-friendly means to Fertur Peru Travel

What LGBT-friendly means to Fertur Peru Travel

Several years ago, my parents came to visit  us in Lima to look after the grand kids while Siduith and I were out of town on business. When we got home, we sent my folks off for a vacation to experience Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.

At the time, Fertur Peru Travel did not handle its own direct operations in the Inca capital, as we do now. We entrusted our clients — and in this case, our family — to another tour company.

It was on one of that company’s tour buses that the incident occurred.

The guide pointed out the rainbow checkered Wiphala flag of the Inca Empire, and launched into an impassioned lecture about how foreign tourists should not confuse the traditional Tawantinsuyu banner with the similarly designed gay pride flag because….

As my mother recounted the story, the guide’s summation of Peruvian history and society that followed wasn’t the most offensive homophobic drivel one could imagine, but it was bad enough.

The three gay Americans, whom my parents had befriended on the tour, exchanged glances but chose to say nothing.

The  guide did not escape unscathed, however. Mom — never one to waste a teachable moment — pulled him aside later for a gentle lecture of her own about manners and the value of professionalism over prejudice.

We are a family owned business, and it gives us no greater joy than when our family and friends visit from abroad and give us the chance to show them the wonders of Peru.

We are blessed to count among our closest circle gay and lesbian friends and family. It has been too many years since Suzanne visited us last. Some day we’ll get to have as our guests Heather and Stacy, and Ian, and Debbie and Carol with their kids, and Charles.

So this tour bus incident got us thinking: What if it had been one of our loved ones subjected to that unacceptable situation?

We resolved that what happened on that tour bus must never happen again during any vacation or any tour organized by Fertur Peru Travel.

But wishing it so was not enough. Our employees and partners had to know in unambiguous terms our company’s policy and what we expect of them.

So we joined the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, and through IGLTA we learned about the GayComfort™ program that has provided us with invaluable online-training for our staff.

Being LGBT-friendly is more than just good business. It’s simply the right thing to do.

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Authored by: Rick Vecchio

Rick Vecchio, Fertur’s director of development and marketing, was educated at the New School for Social Research and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for Pacifica Radio WBAI and as a daily reporter for newspapers in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. Then in 1996, he decided it was time to realize a life-long dream of traveling to Peru. He never went back. While serving as Peru country manager for the South American Explorers from 1997-1999, he fell in love with Fertur's founder, Siduith Ferrer, and they married. Over the next six years, he worked as a correspondent for The Associated Press. Meanwhile, Siduith built the business, which he joined in January 2007. Now he designs custom educational and adventure tour packages for corporate and institutional clients, oversees Fertur’s Internet platform and occasionally leads special trips, always with an eye open for a good story to write about.

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