Suppliers in Asia take LGBT market seriously
Tourism suppliers in Asia are being more serious about attracting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travellers, motivated by the high spending power of this increasingly prominent segment of the travel industry. ITB Asia presented a Pink Corner for suppliers for the first time this year. The event’s executive director, Nino Gruettke, stressed that “the LGBT market is a highly attractive niche market, so we are using the Pink Corner as a test to find out more and listen to the needs of this market.”
Thomas Bömkes, managing director of Munich’s tomontour.com, is also LGBT consultant for ITB Berlin. “LGBT travel has been around in Southeast Asia for ages, but nobody paid much attention to it until recently,” he said. “While Thailand and Bali are traditionally popular with the community, Cambodia, Vietnam and India are also emerging as hotspots.”
Hotels are also taking steps, especially in Bali, Thailand and Singapore. The Le Jardin resort in Bali listed itself on a local LGBT tour operator website at the start of 2012 and has seen a 20% increase in bookings in this market.
The Kunja Villa & Spa Bali’s general manager, Mangku Suteja, estimated gay travellers to constitute about 5% of its guests and predicted that this would grow stronger on the back of Bali’s accommodating culture and supply of high-end private villa resorts. The LGBT demographic is a “significant niche market that cannot be ignored”, according to Rosmalia Hardman, director of sales and marketing at the W Singapore Sentosa Cove. “W hotels’ design-oriented approach has always drawn these travellers”, she suggested.
[photo by Ludovic Bertron]