Never take for granted the importance of Pride. It encourages people to travel, and it lets us gather and celebrate in person—away from our devices, where we can recharge ourselves and connect with our LGBTQ+ community.
That’s one of the key insights from our recent study on LGBTQ+ tourism in Europe. Our philanthropic IGLTA Foundation partnered with the European Travel Commission, an organization representing over 30 national tourism boards in Europe, to explore how LGBTQ+ travelers perceive European destinations. I wrote about the study in June, as polling continued across five “long-haul markets”: Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States.
With 4,600 total responses (largely facilitated through a Hornet consumer survey) and a number of in-depth interviews with travel-industry experts, the results were enlightening. The first insights were shared in Brussels during June’s Educational Forum on LGBTQ+ Tourism, organized by the ETC and VisitFlanders.
You can download the full results of the Handbook on the LGBTQ+ Travel Segment for free on the IGLTA Foundation’s Research page and the ETC website. The project—a first foray into the LGBTQ+ market for the ETC— was completed by research specialist Peter Jordan of Gen C Traveller and delivers 75 pages of valuable analysis, forecasts, and consumer feedback. The handbook breaks down results according to each nationality, as well as specific insights on lesbians and transgender travelers. IGLTAF was proud to contribute to the collection of these global insights and the handbook’s design.
What’s in the Handbook?
- Analysis of the LGBTQ+ market today, and major trends
- Expected future evolution of the market
- First-hand consumer insights from five major outbound markets
- Insights on cultural factors shaping demand
- Competitor benchmarking and case studies
- Comprehensive recommendations to European destinations
Marketers and agents promoting European destinations are sure to find useful data in the handbook about travelers’ considerations when booking their international holidays. The handbook also includes a number of case studies to better understand how destinations, including Thailand, Toronto, and Barcelona, have devoted resources to promote themselves among LGBTQ+ travelers—including their challenges and strategies.
The good news is, most of those polled think of Europe as a “liberal, socially progressive destination.” The continent remains a popular destination for same-sex couples, and LGBTQ+ travelers from all five markets have a “strong desire” to visit Europe in the near future. In fact, 80 percent of survey respondents expected to visit Europe in the next three years, while 92 percent of travelers who have visited before expect to make a repeat visit. They’re coming for romantic trips, quality time together, and cultural explorations.
Photo by Sasha Charoensub
But where in Europe do they hope to visit? Spain ranked especially high as a nation where LGBTQ+ residents enjoy great quality of life, and likewise, travelers get “the best overall LGBTQ+ vacation experience.” Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom also were rated highly. Respondents were sensitive to how local LGBTQ+ people are accepted in their home nations, factoring in marriage equality and a heritage of acceptance as decisive factors when selecting their vacation destination.
Among so many valuable insights, we were fascinated by the consistent popularity of Pride and other LGBTQ+ events. Many of us make take them for granted, but in markets where Pride is minimal or even outlawed, Pride and other queer events create a major reason to travel—for celebration, socializing, and to explore a beautiful European city.
Tourism offices and destination marketers should take special note that in sponsoring and promoting LGBTQ+ events, they’re also supporting their local LGBTQ+ communities, and sending an important message about their city in general.
‘Europe’ can, of course, mean many different things, and among the 35 countries covered by the survey, there are several that lag behind in ensuring equal rights for their LGBTQ+ citizens. The good news is that given the diversity of the market, there are opportunities for improvement in destinations across the region, both established and emerging.
We hope the tourism industry at large will appreciate this first Handbook on the LGBTQ+ Travel Segment, and that it helps take European travel into a an even more vibrant, welcoming future.