Eager to get back on the road? Celebrate World LGBTQ+ Tourism Day

The first World LGBTQ+ Tourism Day takes place August 10. The new annual initiative is being launched by the Argentine LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CCGLAR).

In a press statement, a spokesperson said the “goal is to raise awareness worldwide about the importance of LGBTQ+ tourism — its socio-cultural and political aspects, economic impact, and employment creation in countries which welcome LGBTQ+ tourists.”

The launch comes at a time when people are just beginning to think about booking trips again after many months in quarantine or lockdown. Even if they can’t plan trips immediately, many are already thinking about later this year or 2021.

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LGBTQ people are at the forefront of this hunger to get out there again. A Harris Poll published in the U.S. in May found that gay and bisexual people travel more than their straight counterparts and are more likely to be planning post-quarantine travels.

Key findings included:

  • LGBT adults reported taking an average of 3.6 leisure trips in the previous 12 months, compared to 2.3 leisure trips for straight adults.
  • LGBT adults took almost twice as many business trips in the previous 12 months (2.1 compared to 1.2)
  • Just over half (51%) of LGBT adults vs. 46% of non-LGBT adults expect to travel for a vacation in 2020.

Commenting on the findings, marketing guru Bob Witeck observed, “Past research tells us travel remains a high priority for LGBT consumers – even when overcoming setbacks. We witnessed this in 2001 following 9/11, as well as post-recession in 2009, when LGBT adults showed a strong personal appetite to travel once again. As conditions permit, and the economy reopens, we anticipate LGBT travelers again will be found towards the front of many lines at airports, hotels and desirable destinations.”

IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association), recently surveyed over 15,000 LGBT travelers from around the world, with the majority in the U.S. Two-thirds of the survey’s respondents (66%) said they would feel comfortable traveling again for leisure before the end of 2020.

Unsurprisingly, travelers are more likely to choose destinations where they will feel welcome. Conversely, the economic impact of LGBTQ tourism has also been used to lobby for change in some countries.

In 2018, several cruise liners faced an LGBT boycott for visiting Bermuda. The tiny nation had legalized marriage equality in 2017, but the law had been repealed in early 2018. This meant cruise ships could no longer hold wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples on board whilst docked in the region. The cruise operators and other tourist organizations – including the Bermuda tourism authority – spoke out against the country’s same-sex marriage ban, and the government subsequently reverted to allowing same-sex marriages to be performed.

Related: Gay Argentina

Pablo De Luca, President of the CCGLAR, says his own country offers an example of how embracing equality leads to a boost in visitors.

“During the last decade in Argentina, we have seen a huge increase in the arrivals of LGBTQ tourists,” he told GayCities.

“This is not only the result of marketing efforts but also the parallel work that Argentina did through the promotion of laws that equalized rights– both those who live in the country and those visiting us.”

He pointed to the country’s adoption of same-sex marriage in 2010, along with adoption rights for same-sex couples and gender identity laws, among other civil rights.

De Luca says dozens of organizations have already pledged their support for Tourism Day, including, “IGLTA, LGBT Chambers of Commerce and Tourism from Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Chile, Paraguay, business organizations from Spain, Japan, Israel, and leading LGBT tourism consultants in the United States.”

“I see this celebration as an immense opportunity to make people in our LGBTQ community, our culture, our identity visible, and to send the message from destinations that welcome LGBTQ visitors to other countries: places where our brothers and sisters still cannot truly be who they are,” he continued.

World LGBTQ+ Tourism Day will choose a different theme each year, primarily honoring pioneers in the travel field. For 2020, this will be the late American businessman: Bob Damron.

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In 1964, Damron created The Address Book. This was a list of all the gay bars and clubs he came across during his business travels across the country. It was similar to The Green Book (1936) used by African Americans who wished to navigate a safe passage through the segregated Southern States, listing the places they would be welcomed (later made into a major motion picture).

Early additions of Bob Damron's Address Book, detailing gay bars and clubs in the US
Early additions of Bob Damron’s Address Book, detailing gay bars and clubs in the US (Photo: Damron)

Although The Address Book began life as a mini-publication smaller than a cigarette packet, it evolved into the Damron guide still available online today.

Damron himself died in 1991 from complications of HIV, although his legacy as a safe travel pioneer remains.

You can find more information on World LGBTQ+ Tourism Day on its Facebook page