Last year, many travel industry observers — including Roger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association — predicted that LGBTQ travelers would be among the most substantial market segments to return to traveling. And that seems to be the case today, especially as pride celebrations return to many destinations around the globe and interest in travel surges for the months ahead.
“Travel continues to be a growing priority for the LGBTQ+ community, specifically now with the desire to make up for the lost time,” said Oluwaseyi Aladeselu, a travel advisor at Fora Travel who says that last-minute travel, luxury and adventure travel and destination weddings and honeymoons are among the most in-demand vacation types for this segment.
Regardless of what they do when they travel, LGBTQ travelers also continue to be concerned about giving their business to destinations and suppliers that are truly LGBTQ-friendly, Aladeselu adds. “Safety and awareness are still at the top of the list when traveling, with a focus on destinations and properties that are genuinely welcoming all year round – not just during pride or media outcry,” she explained.
What’s Hot Right Now
Considering that June is LGBTQ pride month, it’s no surprise that pride-related travel is getting a lot of attention right now, especially since many destinations that had forgone in-person celebrations for the past two years are now returning to traditional live events.
Cities large and small are flying the pride flag again for parades and celebrations, from New York City to Columbus, Ohio, where the AC Hotel Columbus Downtown has created a Pride Parlor package that includes access to a team of stylists who can help guests hone their perfect pride look. Even Celebrity Cruises offers a festive June getaway with its annual Pride Party at Sea on the Celebrity Edge.
Those who missed their chance to book a pride vacation this month, meanwhile, can opt for events like Pride in London, which takes place in July, and Pride of the Americas, an international celebration designed to serve as a multinational event for LGBTQ people from around the western hemisphere, which is scheduled for February 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Pent-up demand for destination weddings, honeymoons and elopements is also driving sales, according to Aladeselu. “2022 is the year of catching up on romance,” she said. “Many LGBTQ+ travelers are doing that by going on their postponed honeymoons to reconnect.”
Popular LGBTQ Vacation Destinations
According to a recent survey by VacationRenter, a vacation rental company, travelers currently consider San Francisco, New York City and Los Angeles as the top three LGBTQ-friendly cities in the United States. A survey by the company last year, meanwhile, indicated that travelers considered the Netherlands, Canada and the United Kingdom as the safest international destinations for LGBTQ solo travel.
“The top trends for LGBTQ travel focus on safety and security, inclusivity and community,” said Heath Hammett, CEO of VacationRenter. “Every June, many people head towards more liberal and inclusive destinations that they know will be more welcoming to them. This is so important, as feeling safe and comfortable while traveling is crucial for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Greater Awareness of LGBTQ-Friendliness
LGBTQ travelers are savvier than ever about which destinations and businesses are truly welcoming, according to Gavin Miller, executive vice president of Travel Edge, the travel agency network. “With information and technology, consumers can now make even smarter choices when traveling,” he said. “LGBTQ+ travelers can easily Google or work with their travel expert to find out stances on LGBTQ rights and ensure the ‘pink dollar’ is going to the right travel partners in air, cruise and hotel that welcome and celebrate all guests.”
As with many other travelers, the pandemic has taught many LGBTQ globetrotters about the value of working with a travel advisor, Miller adds. “As the demand for the human expertise of a travel designer has increased over the last two years, LGBTQ+ travelers are finding added expertise and security when working with a true travel expert who understands the needs and dreams of the client,” he explained. “LGBTQ+ Travelers are often looking for travel experiences that are not ‘one size fits all’ travel. With a travel expert on their side, LGBTQ+ travelers can unlock hidden perks, special amenities, signature welcome cocktails, LGBTQ+ safe spaces and so much more.”
In addition to travel advisor expertise, travelers can also identify welcoming destinations and businesses through organizations that provide certification and other forms of recognition for inclusive policies. JSX, the “hop-on” private jet service, for example, has been awarded a perfect 100 score for the past three years from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for LGBTQIA+ Equality.
Queer Destinations, an LGBTQ tourism company that conducts awareness programs and consulting, recently certified hoteliers in Mexico for their LGBTQ-inclusive efforts, including the Thompson Playa del Carmen and Mundo Imperial, which now bills itself as the first Mexico-based hotel chain to receive the Committed Entity certification.
Los Cabos, meanwhile, also recently received certification from Queer Destinations. LGBTQ tourism in that Mexican destination makes up about 16 percent of the total number of visitors every year, according to Los Cabos Tourism Board statistics. A robust presence of LGBTQ-focused exhibitors at Mexico’s recent Tianguis Turistico tourism festival in Acapulco, meanwhile, also underscores the region’s increasingly inclusive approach.
Many parts of Latin America, in fact, have made great strides with the market, according to Brian King, president of Marriott International’s Caribbean and Latin America operations. “While the Caribbean and Mexico continue to be top travel destinations, I am particularly excited to see the expanding embrace of the LGBTQ+ community throughout other parts of Central and South America,” he said. “We expect to see an increased level of interest for Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and parts of Chile where gay, queer and trans travelers will find thriving communities and plenty to explore.”