Gay tourists spend more: report

Travellers take more holidays and spend more money

A new report has been released
indicating that the gay community takes more holidays and spends more money than
what the study terms ‘mainstream counterparts’.

The 14th Annual Gay & Lesbian
Tourism Study said that the annual economic impact of lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transsexual travellers was $6.3 billion in the United States alone.

In line with the global recession,
2009 saw most categories of travel showing a loss of numbers, particularly in
business and cruise travel. However, the report also noted that cruise travel
was a very strong market.

“Far more LGBT travellers took
cruises in the past year than their mainstream counterparts (as in previous
years), indicating that LGBT travellers are a viable cruise market even in down
economies,” it concluded.

The survey was conducted during
October 2009 and released by Community Marketing Incorporated on 28 December.
It is a detailed statistical analysis of 7.078 self-identified LGBT consumers
taken from online surveys, phone interviews, focus groups, field studies and
customer satisfaction evaluations.

It is undertaken for a wide range
of clients including tourism offices, tour operators, hospitality groups and
developers worldwide.

Expectations higher

An April, 2009 online study by
Witeck Combs Communications and Harris Interactive said that travel expectations
of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender consumers in the US were higher
than heterosexuals who had responded to their survey.

Survey respondents said that the
LGBT customers intended to spend US$2,300 on average on vacations whilst heterosexuals
expected to spend an average of $1,500 between May and August.

The survey took in 2,401 American
adults of which 146 self-identified as LGBT.

The survey asked whether US
consumers planned to increase, decrease of take the same number of airline
trips during summer 2009. Sixty-two per cent of LGBT respondents said they
would stay the same or increase their travel compared to 36 per cent of
heterosexual respondents.

Affluent

Witeck-Combs Communications is a marketing
and communications company that advises Fortune 500 companies on strategies to
reach the gay consumer market. It looks at a number of indicators as to wealth,
purchasing power and income to determine financial and marketing strategies.

Chief Operating Officer Bon Witeck said
that estimating buying power was an important business measure for companies
and policy decision-makers. Anecdotally, same-sex couples are said to have more
disposable income but in a reaction to a previous 2008 report Mr. Witeck noted
that this was a misconception.

“Buying power is not the same as
affluence or wealth. No one should infer that same-sex households are more
affluent than others. We have seen evidence from academic researchers that gay
men may earn slightly less than their heterosexual counterparts,” he said.

Cruise

The Liberty Caribbean Cruise is
billed as ‘the world’s largest all-gay cruise’ and docks in Grand
Cayman today. It is operated by Atlantis Events on Royal
Caribbean’s ship, Liberty
of the Seas, which holds a maximum of 3,700 guests.

Liberty Caribbean Cruise embarked
from Miami on 17 January and has already visited
Labadee in Haiti.
After Cayman, it goes on to Cozumel, Mexico, before returning to Florida on 24
January.

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