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Tourism boss tells businesses why they should support Norwich Pride

PUBLISHED: 12:24 23 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:10 23 July 2018

Thousands of people march through the city centre to celebrate Norwich Pride 2017. 
Picture: Nick Butcher

Thousands of people march through the city centre to celebrate Norwich Pride 2017. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

A diversity advocate and leading figure on East Anglia’s tourism scene is encouraging more businesses to engage with Norwich Pride.

Simon Altham (dark hair and glasses), managing director of revenue at Vacation Rentals UK, which runs Hoseasons, pictured with staff. Picture: Ryan MasonSimon Altham (dark hair and glasses), managing director of revenue at Vacation Rentals UK, which runs Hoseasons, pictured with staff. Picture: Ryan Mason

The festival celebrating the LGBTQ+ community arrives in the fine city on Saturday after bumper events in London and Brighton.

As well as being a platform for community groups and individuals, Simon Altham, managing director of revenue at Hoseasons’ parent company Vacation Rentals UK, believes it presents a great opportunity for businesses as well.

But he feels not enough companies take advantage of it.

He said: “This will be Hoseasons’ fourth Pride. We have 11 or 12 staff going. It is great to have businesses involved, but I do not think there are enough.

“More small businesses should get involved because it is a great way to get your brand out there and attract talent.”

Lowestoft-based Hoseasons was named LGBT holiday company of the year at the British Travel Awards 2017 for its efforts to offer a safe space to LGBT holidaymakers.

Mr Altham said: “There is clearly an anxiety among customers so we have an LGBT landing page on our website, and we are keen to show LGBT customers that we are safe for them so we do LGBT marketing alongside out standard marketing.”

He feels Hoseasons’ internal efforts to increase its inclusiveness have made it more attractive to prospective employees – for example, it has a diversity champion and gender-neutral toilets.

“Just because you don’t think you have any gay or trans people working for you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide the right facilities and environment for people to bring their whole selves to work,” he said.

“We know that people who are happy at work are more productive and more successful. We have put diversity and inclusion into the mix of our commercial success.

“It is rare in the travel industry but it is not so rare in banking or insurance, if you look at the [gay rights charity] Stonewall Top 100.

“There are some companies in Norfolk doing this but they do not talk about it, they are shy. I think Norwich Pride is a great way for people to face up to it.

“I would encourage people not to think of Pride as an exclusively gay thing, it is about celebrating diversity and inclusion and Norwich is a great bastion for those values.”

With amendments to parliamentary legislation on gender identity in the spotlight, the community could be heading for one of its biggest victories in recent years.

And this explosion of trans issues alongside gay rights into the public consciousness has led to initiatives like Channel 4’s Genderquake season, which culminated in an incendiary debate featuring figures like Germaine Greer and Caitlin Jenner.

Mr Altham said: “A lot of people ask me why we need Norwich Pride – because gay people have equal rights and transgender people have a lot of rights and legislation is so much better, what are we fighting for and why are Hoseasons supporting it?

“But people have to remember that legislation can go backward as well as forward. Just because they are freedoms now they are not guaranteed for the future.”

The EDP’s Norwich Pride content is sponsored by Flaunt Norwich.

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