Contiki has chosen Aisha Shaibu-Lenoir as its LGBTQIA+ ambassador for 2023 to help “break down barriers and achieve visibility” for travellers in the queer community. Jenny Southan reports

New Zealand-based youth tour company Contiki has chosen entrepreneur, activist and producer Aisha Shaibu-Lenoir as their LGBTQIA+ Ambassador for 2023 to help break down barriers and achieve visibility, equality, and equity for people in the queer community.

Recently selected at one of Attitude magazine’s 2023 “Trailblazers” (along with Globetrender founder Jenny Southan), Shaibu-Lenoir recently joined Contiki for a 12-month contract.

Last year she took part in Celebrity Cruises’ “All-Inclusive Photo Project“, designed to improve the representation of all people who travel through the launch of a free image library of diverse people on vacation. Here are some of the shots of her and her wife Lexie…

Celebrity Cruises All-Inclusive Photo ProjectThis year, Shaibu-Lenoir will serve as Contiki’s “voice of the LGBTQIA+ community”, both internally and externally, consulting with the team on communicating, connecting and engaging with their LGBTQIA+ audience and allies.

Shaibu-Lenoir says: “I am excited to embark on this journey with Contiki where we can collaborate to further amplify diverse and marginalized voices from our community. Working together also means we contribute towards the changing face of travel. Travel needs to be more inclusive, intersectional, accessible and to take into account the needs of all women, queer people of colour as well as our non-binary and trans community.”Celebrity Cruises All-Inclusive Photo ProjectRachel Storey, brand and partnerships director at Contiki, says: “We’re delighted to be working with Aisha. We’ll listen closely to what Aisha has to say, and she’ll contribute massively to how we communicate and engage with our LGBTQIA+ audience and allies. We hope this partnership helps us with our ongoing mission to tailor our products to a diverse range of audiences.

“We’re excited to consult with Aisha on a wide range of areas – from the types of content we produce, right through to our products and making our trips as inclusive and accessible as possible. She’ll also do a bit of travelling with us so she can really get a feel for the Contiki experience, as well as what we stand for as a brand.

“Whilst we understand that no one individual can serve as a completely accurate representation for an entire community of people, we do hope that by listening closely to Aisha, the marketing materials that we produce (as well as our selection of trips) will come to better represent the interests of everyone within the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Shaibu-Lenoir is known for her work on various projects. She runs an LGBTQIA+ travel group called Moonlight Experiences, which spotlights the community’s nightlife and culture on tours of Great Britain; she’s head of community engagement for UK Black Pride, whose event last year was the largest of its kind in the world with over 25,000 attendees; she’s also a trustee for GiveOut – an international LGBTQIA+ Foundation that supports the battle for LGBTQIA+ rights across the world.