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LGBTQ: Travel Resources, Trends and Safety Considerations

LGBTQ:  Travel Resources, Trends and Safety Considerations
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photo courtesy of ILGTA

By Stephanie Schroeder

Traveling as LGBTQ people isn’t so much different than traveling as anyone/everyone else, but sometimes there are special considerations to be made. In some countries you might be okay while holding your partner’s hand, in other destinations, you might get stares or funny looks, somewhere else you might face blatant discrimination when, as a same-sex couple, you book one bed in a hotel room. These awkward – and potentially dangerous – situations can make or break a holiday.

We all like to relax while on a vacation. For LGBTQ travelers, especially those of us fifty-plus who’ve been through the days of legal discrimination and queer bashing, before marriage was equal and queer became cool, we want travel as easy, enjoyable – and as safe – as possible.

The Bright Side

The 10 gayest cities in the world, according to UCityGuides, are New York City, San Francisco, Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, London, Paris, Los Angeles and Miami. These locales are friendly places where being LGBTQ is not, for most residents, a negative, and where LGBTQ travelers can find kindred spirits not only in gay-exclusive bars and lodgings, but all over the place.

Damron Company publishes travel guides for the LGBTQ market, and LGBT-specific tourism is represented worldwide with such private travel businesses as Pink Iceland and Hawaii’s Pacific Ocean Holidays. London’s official city tourism organization, Visit London has LGBT-specific offerings, so does Las Vegas along with many other cities’ tourism boards. On the independent Purple Roofs site, you can find small, ‘family owned’ and gay friendly accommodations, with many listings being places you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere else. Purple Roofs also has an extensive list of gay owned and friendly travel agents and tour operators around the world.

Mainstream travel businesses such as American Airlines, Travelocity and Orbitz have had services catering to LGBTQ travelers for a while. The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association is the world’s leading global travel netowrk, and is dedicated to connecting and educating LGBT travelers and the businesses that welcome and support us.

Roze Week in Alkmaar-NO CREDIT

Facts and Figures

It seems those of us upwards of 50 prefer to play it safe – at least to some degree. The 2014 Community Marketing & Insights 19th Annual LGBT Travel Survey Report reveals some not-too-surprising facts while also providing interesting contradictions.

Frequent Travelers: 29% of LGBT participants are frequent leisure travelers, taking five or more leisure trips per year, with 10 or more leisure hotel room nights per year. 14% of LGBT respondents are frequent business travelers, taking five or more business trips per year. As expected, LGBT business travelers are most likely to “hit the road” for non LGBT-related reasons, mostly for a business meeting for an employer. However, 7% of business travelers reported attending at least one LGBT-specific conference in the past 12 months.

Hotel Selection: Most Baby Boomer and Gen X LGBTs prefer mid-range priced hotels, while Millennial LGBTs prefer budget hotels. About a quarter of LGBT travelers reported purchasing accommodations through an owner-sold accommodation (such as VRBO or Airbnb), with younger LGBTs being more likely to use these services.

The fabled gay guest houses and lesbian B&Bs may be seeing their business drop: The CMI survey found that compared to Baby Boomers, Millennials are only half as likely to stay in small accommodations dedicated to gay men or lesbians.

The Dark Side

CMI’s 2014 survey also contained results about Destination Safety and LGBT Discrimination. The survey concluded that LGBTs strongly prefer to travel to destinations that they consider safe and do not have laws that discriminate against LGBT residents and travelers. Only11% indicated that they are willing to travel to a country that has laws against LGBT people.

Additionally, there were also results for regional reputation: Following general travel safety, respondents were asked about perceived safety in specific countries. Many of these countries have significant general population tourism initiatives, but are located in parts of the world that are not always perceived as LGBT-friendly. Russia scored the lowest among all counties tested. Other counties, while not explicitly anti-LGBT, suffer from negative perceptions about their regions.

In January, OutTraveler published “The 10 Places LGBT Travelers Should Never Visit,” which include Nigeria, where same-sex couples can face up to 14 years in prison, Zimbabw, where an LGBT individual can be beheaded for the offense of homosexuality, and Russia where Pride parades are banned, LGBT “propaganda” is illegal, transgender individuals are not allowed to drive, and LGBTQ people are often physically assaulted in public. This type of guide is invaluable, exactly the type of vacation planning information heterosexual folks never have to think about. For LGBTQ people, we must consider that our very existence is illegal in some locales and our love is punishable by death in others. This greatly influences our movement (or lack thereof) in – and around ­– the world.


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