What is LGBT tourism?

By Colin Sines

So many tourism businesses are confused and not really sure what Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) tourism is. Well, I’m hopefully going to help you understand who and what  this market really is all about.

First, it’s not one market any more. Demographics show couples in committed relationships, marriage increases on a daily basis, and affluent singles and same sex families continue to grow. Each of these market and segments has different needs.

LGBT travellers choose destinations and business based on their openness to acceptance and respect; they don’t want to be treated differently from any other visitor. They also make decisions based on a safe environment.

It all starts with a company’s inclusive work environment and a culture that has no discrimination. I always recommend organizations connect with their local Pride events supporting their festival. This not only shows their acceptance, but also helps companies get to know the LGBT community.

Travel Gay Canada is Canada’s only LGBT tourism organization. We work with DMOs and tourism related business in developing inclusive, unique experiences.        

Every two years TGC commissions Protean Strategies to do market research. Here are some of the highlights:

The Canadian LGBT traveller spends $8.5 billion dollars annually on travel.

49 per cent spend those dollars travelling within Canada.

They take an average of five trips per year with an average annual spend of $4,324. 

88 per cent stayed at least one night in a hotel.

Average annual hotel nights is 16.9.

74 per cent took at least one roundtrip flight. Average number of roundtrip flights  is 4.7.

55 per cent intend to spend more in the next 12 months.

Experiential need – 64 per cent go where being LGBT made no difference, while 19 per cent gay trip with LGBT friends to do gay stuff.

When you look at these numbers, it’s not surprising so many destinations and businesses are scrambling to find ways to attract these affluent travellers.

It takes a combined and dedicated effort to become established and recognized as an LGBT destination or business and requires DMOs, PMOs and tourism industry partners to strategize together so that all players are on the same page. It only takes one partner out of sync for it to fall apart.

Reaching this market is not an easy task. It requires investigating all channels of marketing and ways to engage the LGBT consumer — social media plays a major role.

Take a good look at your destination. If you can, experience some of its tourism attractions, and work with your DMO and PMO to determine which can be developed into unique LGBT experiences.

Canada is a desirable destination — on the LGBT global market, we are recognized for being a safe, inclusive and accepting country. 

The LGBT travel market may be a challenge to develop, but if maintained correctly, it can be a rewarding market segment for destinations and businesses across the country.

LGBT travellers are loyal customers. If they have a great experience, they will continue to return again and again. If they don’t, you will definitely hear about it and so will everyone else.

Colin Sines is President and Executive Director Travel Gay Canada, colin@travelgaycanada.com, www.travelgaycanada.com. Travel Gay Canada works with destinations and their stakeholders to develop LGBT destinations