It’s no secret LGBT travelers spend a lot on travel. According to the 19th annual LGBT Tourism Survey conducted by Community Marketing, Inc., LGBT travel grew by 9 percent in 2014, with similar growth predicted for 2015. And according to a study by Out Now Business Class, a travel networking association, the market is now valued at more than $200 billion in annual spending.
A quick look at the sponsors and speakers at any LGBT travel event proves the industry is paying attention to these big numbers. At the 2015 edition of the LGBT Confex, Mexico’s biggest LGBT tourism and business event, Marriott International and tourism officials from both Mexico and the United States were on hand. The annual convention of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association recently attracted sponsors ranging from Delta Air Lines and South African Airways to Hyatt and Hilton, as well as destinations including the tourism offices of Las Vegas, Atlanta and South Africa, the host nation for the 2016 annual convention.
Various organizations continue to study the evolving LGBT market in an effort to better serve. ONBC’s report, LGBT2020, shows New York City, Sydney and Amsterdam at the top of the list of preferred cities for travelers in the segment in 2015, with the United States, France and Australia the most popular countries overall.
To grow market share, some organizations and destinations are paying more attention to diversity within the LGBT segment. The initials “LGBT,” after all, stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — representing a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, incomes and travel preferences. At the LGBT Confex in Merida, Mexico, Richard Gray, LGBT managing director, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, revealed the results of a survey of 700 transgender travelers as part of a campaign to attract more transgender visitors. “It is our goal to make Fort Lauderdale the No. 1 destination of choice for transgender travelers,” Gray said, noting Fort Lauderdale served as host city for Southern Comfort, the nation’s largest transgender conference, in 2015.
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