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LGBT tourism

Gay tourism or LGBT tourism is a form of niche tourism marketed to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. They are usually open about their sexual orientation and gender identity but may be more or less open when traveling; for instance they may be closeted at home or if they have come out, may be more discreet in areas known for violence against LGBT people

The main components of LGBT tourism is for destinations, accommodations and travel services wishing to attract LGBT tourists; people looking to travel to LGBT-friendly destinations; people wanting travel with other LGBT people when traveling regardless of the destination and LGBT travelers who are mainly concerned with cultural and safety issues. The LGBT tourism industry includes destinations (tourism offices and CVBs), travel agents, accommodations and hotel groups, tour companies, cruise lines and travel advertising and promotions companies who market these destinations to the gay community. Coinciding with the increased visibility of LGBT people raising children in the 1990s, an increase in family-friendly LGBT tourism has emerged in the 2000s, for instance R Family Vacations which includes activities and entertainment geared towards couples including same-sex weddings. R Family’s first cruise was held aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines‘s Norwegian Dawn with 1600 passengers including 600 children.[6][7]

Major companies in the travel industry have become aware of the substantial money (also known as the “pink dollar” or “pink pound“) generated by this marketing niche, and have made it a point to align themselves with the gay community and gay tourism campaigns. According to a 2000 Travel University report, 10% of international tourists were gay and lesbian accounting for more than 70 million arrivals worldwide. This market segment is expected to continue to grow as a result of ongoing acceptance of LGBT people and changing attitudes towards sexual and gender minorities. Outside larger companies, LGBT tourists are offered other traditional tourism tools, such as hospitality networks of LGBT individuals who offer each other hospitality during their travels and even home swaps where people live in each other’s homes. Also available worldwide are social groups for resident and visiting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender expatriates and friends.

Gay travel destinations are popular among practitioners of gay tourism because they usually have permissive or liberal attitudes towards gays, feature a prominent gay infrastructure (bars, businesses, restaurants, hotels, nightlife, entertainment, media, organisations, etc.), the opportunity to socialize with other gays, and the feeling that one can relax safely among other gay people.

Gay travel destinations are often large cities, although not exclusively, and often coincide with the existence of gay neighborhoods. These municipalities and their tourism bureaus often work actively to develop their reputations as places for gays to travel to, commonly by aligning themselves to local gay organisations. Travel analysts state that the existence of a core gay friendly population is often the primary catalyst for the development of a gay-friendly tourist destination.

According to Lonely Planet the top friendly gay friendly destinations in the world are: 1. San Francisco, USA; 2. Sydney, Australia; 3. Brighton, England; 4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands; 5. Berlin, Germany; 6. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; 7. New York City, United States; 8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 9. Prague, Czech Republic; 10. Bangkok, Thailand.

Gay tourism might also coincide with special gay events such as annual gay pride parades, gay neighborhood festivals and such gay community gatherings as gay chorus festivals and concerts, gay square dance conventions, gay sports meets such as Gay Games, World Outgames or EuroGames and conferences of national and international gay organisations. Gay tourism blossoms during these peak periods.

The LGBT tourism industry represents an estimated annual US $65 billion on gay travel in the USA alone, according to Community Marketing & Insights. In Europe, the gay tourism market has been estimated at €50 billion per year by the Gay European Tourism Association. The adult LGBT community in the USA has a total economic spending power of more than $600 billion per year, according to Wietck Combs. In a study for Philadelphia, Community Marketing & Insights found that for every one dollar invested in gay tourism marketing, $153 was returned in direct economic spending in shops, hotels, restaurants and attractions. Since 2002, there has been a historic rise in gay tourism marketing. Destinations such as Philadelphia, Dallas and Ft. Lauderdale have engaged in gay tourism campaigns.

Philadelphia was the first destination in the world to create and air a television commercial specifically geared towards practitioners of gay tourism. Philadelphia was also the first destination to commission a research study aimed at a specific destination to learn about gay travel to a specific city.

According to the top ten best gay pride events are:

  1. Sydney Mardi Gras
  2. Amsterdam’s Canal Parade
  3. Berlin Pride
  4. Buenos Aires gay pride event
  5. San Francisco Pride Celebration
  6. London’s Pride Festival
  7. New York City Pride
  8. Madrid Pride
  9. Montreal
  10. Pensacola Memorial Day Weekend.
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