More than 35mn of LGBT travellers represent an appealing segment for tourism destinations

The LGBT segment is one of the most performative for the Travel & Tourism industry, both for expense capacity and the lasting of their holidays. As we have already reported, in 2016 the preferred destinations by Italian LGBTs was Italy (51%), generating a revenue of about 3bn euros. At a global level, in 2016 this segment generated about 35 million of international tourism arrivals.

Generally, LGBT prefer destinations which are perceived as friendly, where there is a sense of welcoming and safety. In fact, further Countries which registered interesting results were Spain, in particular Barcelona, and Greece, with its Mykonos. Beyond Europe, the USA continue to be the favourite destination, even if the Orlando tragedy raised some concerns last year.
As reported by Virgin Holidays, the keyword to the success of these destinations is “welcome”. In fact, 63% of British LGBT affirmed that they would refuse to travel to a Country which is not perceived as welcoming.
Ian Johnson from OutNow, global LGBT consulting and business development, during the last WTM2016 reported to Twissen that “welcome” is the keyword to meet this segment.
Also according to the recent UNWTO’s “Second Global Report on LGBT Tourism”, realised in cooperation with IGLTA – International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, hostility towards the LGBT community could seriously damage a destination’s reputation.

Travel & Tourism industry operators are trying to attract this segment, which is willing to spend more once at destination, and to create a loyalty relationship to assure a second visit.
In fact, according to the UNWTO’s report, in 2016 the purchasing power of USA’s LGBTs was about 820bn euros. The report underlines that operators of the tourism sector should be aware that this segment is inhomogeneous and it is often easier to analyse it by dividing it on the basis of sex and generation, instead of considering it as an only target.
For example, the LGBT – Millennials segment has much in common with straight – Millennials. They are inclined to use sharing economy services, to look for authenticity and contact with local culture, to combine budget and luxury services and to share their experiences through social medias, which are going to influence other travellers.

As it happened in 2005 in Spain and in 2013 in the United States, the legalisation of same-sex marriages increases the appeal of the destinations, bringing further benefits to the wedding industry, which now is worth 267 billion euros. In California, during the first 3 years of legalisation of same-sex marriages, about 50.000 couples that got married generated a 400mn dollars expense, 31mn in local taxes.
Many destinations, including Spain, oriented their promotional campaigns towards this target. An efficient example was the Irish one, with the “Ireland Says I Do” campaign, or the UK with “VisitBritain’s Love is Great”, promoting as a tolerant and open-minded Country.
The report, concerning the honeymoon sector, registers a trend which is similar to heterosexual couples: an important expense which happens “once in a lifetime”, in the name of adventure. Some private operators started to promote as gay-friendly. This was the case of the joined initiative of Aeroméxico, Axel Hotels, Friendly Map and the Cámara de Comercio Gay y Lésbico de Argentina, that realised “NecesitamosMásBesos”, or the Marriott Hotels chain, with “#LoveTravels”.
The UNWTO affirms that the tourism destinations which are mature for a certain offer, for example the classical “Sea & Sun” option, could propose as ideal places for LGBT tourism. It also suggests that a particular attention should be paid to customer services and to the unicity of the proposed experiences. Regarding the promotion, the direct marketing appears to be one of the most successful options.

At Twissen we observed that there are growing opportunities in the LGBT segment, in particular for tourism destinations. Knowing the expectations of the various targets, product innovation and clear policies to welcome this interesting tourism segment provide differentiation and branding ideas. The World Gay Pride 2017 which will be held in Madrid from the 23rd of June to the 2nd of July is an event which has been planned according to this approach, in order to achieve considerable performances that will bring benefit also to the local community.