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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 cities and countries 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 slang term gaycation has come to imply a version of a vacation that includes a pronounced aspect of LGBT culture, either in the journey or destination. The LGBT tourism industry includes travel agents, 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.

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 Tourism Intelligence International 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 ongoing acceptance of LGBT people and changing attitudes towards sexual and gender minorities. The gay and lesbian segment is estimated at $55 billion annual market as of 2007. Outside larger companies, LGBT tourists are offered other traditional tourism tools, such as LGBT hospitality networks of LGBT individuals who offer each other hospitality during their travels and even home swaps where people live in each others homes. Also available are social groups for resident and visiting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender expatriates and friends exist worldwide.

Gay travel destinations

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.

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.

Gay tourism practitioners spend $64 billion a year on gay travel, according to Community Marketing Inc. The adult GLBT community has a total economic spending power of more than $600 billion per year, according to Wietck Combs. Philadelphia and Community Marketing 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.

The gay cruise industry is experiencing a significant growth period. Community Marketing Inc. found in research studies that gay business travelers are 30% more likely to convert to a leisure visitor .

Philadelphiamarker 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.

Work is underway in conjunction with Israelmarker's Ministry of Tourism to turn Tel Avivmarker into the international tourist destination for the gay-lesbian community in order to boost business in restaurants, hotels, city attraction sites and beaches. In an effort to boost gay tourism in Tel Aviv, the Gay and Lesbian Union has bid to host in Tel Aviv the 2009 Euro Pride, the largest annual gay parade in the world.

Gay tourism specialists

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) holds an annual world convention and four symposia in different tourism destinations around the world. Each symposium attracts over 100 representatives of tour agencies and travel publications that specialise in the gay and lesbian market. The association was founded in 1983, and it currently represents over 900 members. Its headquarters are in Fort Lauderdalemarker, Floridamarker.

The "14th International Gay & Lesbian World Travel Expo" in 2006 will visit six U.S. cities. The annual Expo series is produced by Community Marketing, a gay tourism research and travel marketing firm.

Out Traveler, from the publishers of Out and The Advocate, is a glossy magazine aimed at gay and lesbian travellers. It is published six times yearly. Other LGBT-travel publications include Passport Magazine and Spartacus International. One of Europe's gay and lesbian travel marketing specialists is Out Now Consulting.

See also


  1. The Complete Travel Detective Bible: The Consummate Insider Tells You What You Need to Know in an Increasingly Complex World! by Peter Greenberg; Rodale, 2007; ISBN 1594867089, 9781594867088.
  2. Straight Jobs Gay Lives: Gay and Lesbian Professionals, the Harvard Business School, and the American Workplace by Annette Friskopp, Sharon Silverstein; Simon and Schuster, 1996; ISBN 0684824132, 9780684824130.
  3. Shipping Out, Olivia Style on the Mexican Riviera: Olivia Cruises is everything people say it is, and absolutely nothing like it by Judy Wieder, Out Traveler - Summer 2004
  4. Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing by Jeff Guaracino; Butterworth-Heinemann, 2007; ISBN 0750682329, 9780750682329.
  5. Villages by an Emerald Sea: America's New Rivera, Northwest Florida's Magnificent Emerald Coast by James Keir Baughman; Baughman Literary Group, 2003; ISBN 0979044308, 9780979044304.
  6. All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America by Suzanna Danuta Walters; University of Chicago Press, 2003; ISBN 0226872327, 9780226872322.
  7. South Carolina’s LGBT Population – Economic & Business Impact
  8. Home Sweet Swap: Who needs a hotel when you can trade your own abode for a fab flat? Welcome to the world of gay home exchange networks by Lauren Ragland; Out Traveler - Spring 2006.
  9. The Gay Vacation Guide: The Best Trips and How to Plan Them by Mark Chesnut; Kensington Books, 2002; ISBN 0758202660, 9780758202666.
  10. [1]

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