Pride Month, a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, is a month-long celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. Every June, cities across the U.S. host a plethora of pride events, from parades to festivals, to showcase their dedication to inclusivity in their destination.
As Pride Month comes to a close, we’re highlighting some of the ways destinations can continue to be more inclusive to members of the LGBTQ+ community all year long.
The Impact of LGBTQ+ Tourism:
According to a report co-published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), the LGBTQ+ community is a “diverse and burgeoning segment of consumers.” This is reflected in the community’s frequent travel and tendency to demonstrate higher-than-average spending patterns, due to the higher levels of disposable income members possess.
Furthermore, a study done by Community Marketing & Insights (CMI), found that 77 percent of LGBT participants held a valid passport, compared to just 36 percent of the general U.S. population (as reported by the U.S. State Department).
Perhaps most importantly, research conducted by Virgin Holidays found that nearly two thirds of British adults (63 percent) refuse to travel to a destination that is unwelcoming towards the LGBTQ+ community, and a similar study by UNWTO/IGLTA showed that 45 percent of LGBTQ+ travelers rated LGBTQ+-friendliness as an important attribute when choosing a destination.
How destinations can embrace inclusivity beyond Pride Month:
Support LGBTQ Businesses in Your Destination: According to John Tanzella, President & CEO of IGLTA, one of the best places to kickstart your diversity efforts is right in your own backyard: “As a destination, one of the best ways is to ensure you are inclusive is to have a good connection to your own LGBTQ community, from supporting local events to promoting LGBTQ-owned businesses.”
Diversify Your Marketing Efforts: A pioneer in LGBTQ+ tourism, Houston First (then Visit Houston) was one of the first organizations in the tourism industry to market to LGBTQ+ travelers. In 2009, they launched a then-controversial website aptly named “MyGayHouston.com” designed to promote the Texas city as a welcoming and safe destination for all.
The decision to use “gay” in the URL was a controversial one and the first of its kind in the tourism industry. But for Holly Clapham, chief marketing officer at Houston First, it was the only way to go: “I’m not going to hide behind rainbows and acronyms. We’re putting the word ‘gay’ in the URL,” she said at the time.
Amplify Authentic Voices: For the team at MyGayHouston.com, authenticity is key to their success. They hire freelance writers that are part of the LGBTQ+ community, as part of an ongoing effort to create genuine content that speaks directly to LGBTQ+ travelers.
Prioritize Representation: As part of the launch of MyGayHouston.com, the team created an advertising campaign that featured Houston residents of various sexual orientations, gender identities and ethnicities. Moral of the story: If you want your visitors to be diverse, your marketing needs to be, too.
Become an IGTLA Member: A globally recognized sign of support, an IGTLA membership provides destinations with the necessary tools and resources to create safe and welcoming destinations for all.
Per the 2018 Out Now Global Study, the LGBTQ+ travel market currently exceeds $218 billion. Destinations welcoming the LGBTQ+ community year round will result in greater growth potential. More importantly, by promoting gay-friendly hotels, dining and sights, your destination will be supporting pride each and every day.