10 Things You Didn’t Know About Gay Travel


The results of an annual Gay and Lesbian Travel Survey have just been released, courtesy of the San Francisco-based Community Marketing, Inc. And while some of the results will be less-than-shocking (gay New York City gets high scores, as does gay Miami and gay New Orleans), there are still a few surprises in the 40-page report (plus it’s a good read). The 16th annual survey of its kind analyzes online responses from more than 6,700 U.S. residents and 540 Canadians, completed between September 20 and October 31, 2011.

“At first the survey was to build the industry, to show travel companies the strength of gay and lesbian travel spending,” notes David Paisley of CMI. “That message has been well received, as nearly every major travel company and destination now has an LGBT marketing strategy. Today, the study is to better inform our clients about changing patterns within a more mature LGBT travel industry.” Based on this survey and Department of Commerce tourism statistics, CMI estimates that gay and lesbian tourism generates more than $65 billion a year in the U.S. alone. Herewith, some of the more interesting findings of this year’s survey:

1. Economy be damned! Overall, the gay and lesbian community reported more trips in the past 12 months, while travel had been down in the past two years’ surveys. Both men and women took an average of more than three leisure trips in the past year.

 2. Still, gay travelers like saving money, too. More LGBT travelers call themselves “economy/budget travelers” than “luxury travelers” (though the mid-range market is still the largest). And high percentages of gay men said that discount-laced LGBT hotel packages were motivating factors when choosing accommodations (not so much for lesbians).


3. Kids rule. Once gay globetrotters become parents, the importance of “family-friendly” trumps “gay-friendly” when planning getaways.

4. Anti-gay, stay away? Not always. Only about one third of gay men and lesbians avoid destinations with anti-gay laws, indicating that destination boycotts are not so effective (though corporate boycotts are, according to CMI focus groups). More of a deterrent to those surveyed are recent reports of gay bashings—though the two considerations are often intertwined.