A benchmark affiliate report has been published by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in partnership with the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.
The Global Report on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Tourism was released in January 2012 and found that destinations offering a tolerant culture were reaping the benefits of increased travel and spend by gay travellers.
The report cautioned against making assumptions about this market, as sexuality is not necessarily an indicator of socio-economic status or leisure choices. Although difficult to accurately measure the impact of gay tourism, sources in the United States attribute 5% of tourism spend to the LGBT market. In Cape Town, this figure is thought to be 10% to 15% of all tourists.
Progressive attitudes in countries such as South Africa, Argentina, India, Spain, Mexico and South Korea have attracted the LGBT market in droves. The wedding market for this sector is a big driver and the LGBT sector appears to have bucked the recession trend, bringing higher-than-average spend to its holiday destinations. In addition, the advent of same-sex marriage laws have meant that many gay couples are now travelling with children and spending in the family market.
Generally savvy in digital media, the LGBT sector is influenced by social media and digital or actual word of mouth. Cape Town is a favourite with gay travellers for its matchless beauty, diverse lifestyle, colourful people and large local gay population.
South African events such as Gay Pride, the Pink Loeries Mardi Gras, the Out in Africa Film Festival, MCQP and Mr Gay South Africa are further reasons LGBT travellers choose South Africa as their destination. The United Kingdom’s Guardian recognised Cape Town as “One of the Ten Most Popular Gay Destinations in the World”.
Destination marketing associations that successfully attract the LGBT market are working proactively at gay-targeted expos and fairs, but are also aligned with equal rights organisations that promote tolerance. Says the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, “Reaching out to LGBT travellers in an informed, authentic manner is essential.” In particular, LGBT travellers are sensitive to destinations that are only interested in their money.
In 2011, homosexuality was still illegal in 76 countries. Of these, five still find it to be punishable by death. The UNWTO reiterates that the struggle for gay rights is a human rights struggle.
For further information, please see www.capetown.travel