According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the LGBTQ+ segment accounts for 10% of tourists worldwide and approximately 16% of total travel spending, equating to more than $195 billion a year.
LGBTQ+ tourists are thought to be more adventurous, like new experiences, travel more and spend more and aren’t limited by season so represent a lucrative market for Simpleview’s DMOs.
In this blog we take a look at two Simpleview clients that are doing a great job of welcoming the LGBTQ+ market to their destinations:
One Simpleview client that has fully committed to welcoming the LGBTQ+ market is VisitOSLO.
For some background, Norway was one of the first countries to introduce anti-discrimination laws and has had gender-neutral marriage rules in place since 2009.
Oslo’s gay scene is diverse and well integrated with its overall tourism offer. Oslo Pride is an annual event in June/July, attracting 40,000 people, travelling from far and wide to celebrate progress and push to end all forms of discrimination.
We interviewed Director of Marketing, Anne-Signe Fagereng at VisitOSLO to find out more about why the destination is so popular with the LGBTQ+ community:
What year did VisitOSLO implement the LGBTQ+ sites ? How did this come about, and what role has VisitOSLO played?
VisitOSLO first published a guide for LGBTQ+ people in 2005, when Oslo hosted Europride for the first time. Since then, we have made continuous efforts to update and expand our content. It is our goal to give visitors and locals accurate information about the queer scene in the city and inspire them to explore all facets of it. In the process, we have always worked closely with local LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, our partners in the hospitality industry as well as relevant departments in the municipality of Oslo.
Looking at www.visitoslo.com, it’s clear that inclusive language and imagery are everywhere.What other best practices have you put into place to make the destination more welcoming?
We do not limit our effort just to our website but actively promote Oslo as an LGBTQ+ destination on social media as well. In particular, we love to use the annual Pride celebrations as a colourful excuse to position our city as a destination that welcomes everyone. The modest share of negative comments on social media tells us that the message is still an important one, and we have decided to take a stand against hate and discrimination, even if it means provoking potential travellers and Oslo ambassadors.
We also love that our partners in the travel industry share our commitment, with many of them participating in the annual pride celebrations as well as sponsoring them.
What are the most meaningful changes you’ve implemented to help cement your place as the ‘LGBTQ+ Capital’ ?
In 2018 we ran the campaign “The Proud Experience” in order to promote Oslo as an LGBTQ+ travel destination. We worked closely with a national LGBTQ+ advocacy groups during all stages of production as well as VisitNorway.
The campaign centred on lesbian and gay visitors invited from the Czech Republic and Turkey to experience Oslo Pride. A film shows how our celebration of diversity is especially strong for visitors who still experience prejudice in every day life at home.
We asked Klára, one of the stars of the film what she thought makes Oslo a LGBTQ+ friendly city and she explained:
"We felt that Oslo was a very welcoming city, a place where people accept you for who you are. For instance, nobody was looking at us when we were holding hands. Instead, some people actually walked up to us and said: ‘This is your celebration, but we will take part in it’."
Even though Norwegian authorities and general public opinion expect nothing less of the attractions, hotels and restaurants in Oslo than to welcome everyone, it is still important to note that there is a need for clear pro-LGBTQ+ voices at home too. Choosing to promote our capital in this way hopefully has a positive impact for the local community. It’s important not to take equal rights and diversity for granted.
What’s next for VisitOSLO and the LGBTQ+ community/tourism? How do things look five years from now?
Just like our city is always evolving, we need to change with it. As Oslo reopens at the end of the pandemic, we see a lot of renewed and exciting activity across the whole hospitality industry, including the LGBTQ+ scene. We have started the process of completely reworking our LGBTQ+ content on our website in order to capture the spirit of the moment for our locals and visitors. At the same time, we are developing new tools for our website that will make our content even more accessible.
It is VisitOSLO’s intention to continue our efforts to make the city a destination where everyone feels welcome. For this reason we need more insight into what is important for LGBTQ+ visitors from other countries and regions, and that is one area we need to look at going forward.
Bristol has a flourishing LGBTQ+ scene with two award-winning gay villages, world class LGBTQ+ festivals and a thriving LGBTQ+ nighlife.
The annual LGBT+ History Month takes place in February and is a month-long celebration and awareness event and an opportunity to increase the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and to share their stories, history, lives and experiences.
The visitor site also has some other great resources, such as the Insider Tips section with details of events, clubs and bars and the Landmark Tales page which features some fascinating facts from Bristol’s LGBTQ+ past, including the story of Laurence Michael Dillon who is believed to have been the world’s first trans man to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
So how can our DMOs reach out to this community and welcome them to their destinations?
In an episode of the Layover Live celebrating Pride month last year, Simpleview’s Director of Business Development, Caroline Dawson shared some great tips on how our DMOs can engage with their LGBTQ+ communities better:
- Don’t just promote your destination during Pride season – you should be marketing to your LGBTQ+ audience all year round
- Get involved with the local community and create alliances with relevant groups
- Support your local Pride event
- Aim to educate your tourism businesses on how they can position themselves as gay friendly to attract an LGBTQ+ audience eg. by hosting workshops
- Be visibly welcoming and promote relevant messaging across all your media, rather than just a single page on a website
- Work with influencers and bloggers to boost the exposure for your LGBTQ+ offer
- Join associations such as IGLTA (International LGBTQ+ Travel Association) for access to some great resources and support
- Ultimately your LGBTQ+ offer needs to become part of your brand’s DNA rather than just a tick in a check box
So to summarise, you need to do more than promote your local Pride event to win over the LGBTQ+ audience. As Caroline says, “don’t just chase the rainbow, be part of it!”
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