More and more destinations around the world are becoming LGBT traveller friendly

Published on : Tuesday, March 13, 2018

indexRight from gay-friendly honeymoon destinations to party escapes, tourism has catered to LGBT travellers for a long time now. But as acceptance grows, the tourism industry calls everyone to broaden their offers, and avoid clichés.

All too often, travel professionals remain stuck on stereotypical views of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual travellers as hedonistic holidaymakers, Thomas Boemkes of the consulting agency Diversity Tourism said at Berlin’s ITB fair, “Hotel owners still ask me how to be gay friendly, and if for example they should be offering condoms. I tell them all they have to do is be tolerant and welcoming, as you would be with any other clientele, without being intrusive.” He added that “it is appreciated” when reception staff ask two male guests whether they would like twin rooms or a shared bed.

The UNWTO said in a 2016 report that LGBT travellers account for five to 10 percent of global tourists. The UNWTO describes LGBT travellers as a group “that travels with greater frequency and demonstrates higher-than-average patterns of spending”, making them and their so-called “pink dollars” welcome visitors in many countries. “It is less typical for gay travellers to have children, and they do have more money and time to travel,” said John Tanzella, head of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA).

LGBT tourism burst onto the scene more than four decades ago, when a US travel firm offered the first gay-only tour of the Grand Canyon in 1973. Over the years, many cities around the world have earned their reputation as LGBT-friendly vacation spots, like Berlin or Barcelona — whose buzzing Eixample district has been dubbed “Gayxample”.

Tanzella said that more and more countries are becoming “safer and welcoming” allowing intrepid LGBT travellers to escape “the gay bubble effect” and explore previously hidden gems. Among the top emerging destinations is Colombia, which is already “very well known in our community, with plenty of gay dance clubs”. “Colombia is very much forward-thinking,” Tanzella said. “And the entire country is beautiful.”

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