LGBT tourism discrimination in the Caribbean is affecting its economy

Published on : Saturday, July 10, 2021

As per a recent study, LGBT+ discrimination in 12 English-speaking Caribbean countries equates to between US$1.5 billion and US$4.2 billion a year in lost revenue, corresponding to the degree of 5.7 per cent of annual GDP.

The 12 countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

In spite of much progress in other parts of the world, the study reveals that the challenges that LGBT+ people in the Caribbean face on a daily basis are quite bleak. State-sponsored homophobia and transphobia are common, with major social stigma.

For example, nine of the 12 countries still criminalize same-sex intimacy and, for trans people, none of the 12 countries allow a change of sex or gender marker on state identifications.

Tourism, which is a major industry in the Caribbean, is harmed by the region’s apparent anti-LGBT+ environment.
60 per cent of LGBT+ and straight people would visit a country like Barbados but only after its government passes legislation allowing same sex unions. This comes at a significant financial cost to the region.

The report says that businesses are a source of hope in the Caribbean. “Many companies have been taking a strong stance on LGBT+ inclusion. Interviews with regional business leaders point to a growing focus on training, as well as other activities to improve diversity among staff and to be welcoming of all visitors,” it said.

Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer of Virgin Atlantic said, “The Caribbean is understandably one of the biggest leisure destinations we fly to and one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. But, sadly it is also one of the least inclusive. Tourism plays a vital role in the economies of many Caribbean countries, which have felt a particularly harsh impact from the global slowdown of travel caused by Covid-19.To support the region’s economic recovery in the future, it is essential for destinations to attract the widest possible demographic of travelers, including those who identify as LGBTQ+ and allies of the community.”

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