Gay and lesbian travellers a driving force in the international tourism industry

Gay and lesbian travellers a driving force in the international tourism industry

US Gay and lesbian hotel guests spend an average 57 per cent more on their travels than their heterosexual counterparts. That is the result of the latest survey by Community Marketing Inc., a partner of ITB Berlin. Rika Jean-Francois, ITB Berlin’s CSR officer and member of the board of the International Gay & Travel Association (IGLTA) presented the findings at the ITB Berlin Convention and at the recently held strategy conference of Wien Tourismus in Vienna. Late last year, in a survey conducted in the USA by Community Marketing Inc., 5,700 interviewees were asked about their travel habits. According to the survey, it is not only hotels but entire destinations that benefit from LGBT travellers (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).

Sunshine and relaxation the main reasons for holidaying
According to the survey, 40 per cent of gays and close to the same number of lesbians in the USA said a destination’s degree of gay-friendliness was the main factor influencing their choice of destination. As regarded holiday needs 67 per cent of gays and 66 per cent of lesbian travellers said warm weather was their first requirement, followed by cultural attractions, beaches and cuisine. More than 50 per cent of the respondents said one of their main holiday interests was relaxation. For 35 per cent of gays the second-most important aspect was visiting friends and family, while for 32 per cent of lesbian couples it was spending time with their partners. 33 per cent of gay and 30 per cent of lesbian respondents said the location of a hotel significantly influenced their choice of destination. For 30 per cent of both groups the second-most important aspect was the price.

LGBT travellers are comfortable using the internet. When searching for travel information 59 per cent of lesbian and 54 per cent of gay travellers in the US said they relied on the recommendations of friends and families, after which they preferred travel websites. 41 per cent of gay and 36 per cent of lesbian travellers said they responded to advertising that targeted LGBT audiences.

Commitment to LGBT travellers
Over many years, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) concept, ITB Berlin has committed itself to supporting human rights in tourism, including tolerance and diversity, and for example is a committed member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA). Exhibitors representing the LBGT market first took part in the world’s largest travel trade show in 2003. For the last three years lectures and discussions on this subject as well as on LGBT travel topics have been taking place at the ITB Berlin Convention.

It has become one of the 15 officially recognised travel segments of the world’s largest travel trade show and since then has witnessed constantly rising demand. Currently, ITB Berlin has the largest range of LGBT travel products and destinations of any tourism trade show in the world. With its large Gay & Lesbian Travel Pavilion, the ITB TomOnTour Party and various other supporting LGBT events ITB Berlin has made a stand for tolerance and equal rights.

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With its seminars on LGBT tourism in India in 2011, an information stand at ITB Asia 2012 in Singapore, an LGBT information booth at ABAV 2013 in Rio de Janeiro and international seminars and symposiums around the world the ITB Academy is also showing its support for dismantling taboos and the development of this important market segment worldwide. At ITB Berlin 2013 a strategic partnership between Wien Tourismus (Vienna Tourism) and ITB Berlin on LGBT Travel was agreed, in a bid to jointly support and further its aims in the future.