Still many challenges tourism industry should address
New research announced at the World Travel Market in London has revealed that the annual spend on tourism by LGBT people will reach $202 billion in 2014.
The Out Now Global LGBT2020 Tourism Report, commissioned by Out Now Business Class, an LGBT travel trade association, also shows that the highest spending market is the USA, followed by Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Germany and Turkey.
But speakers at the “What’s next for LGBT tourism?” seminar at WTM highlighted that there are still many challenges the industry needs to address.
“Staff training is essential to help get staff up to speed with what has become an unstoppable LGBT consumer revolution for the travel industry,” said Ian Johnson, Out Now Business Class founder and CEO. “Over the past 22 years we have come on a journey from ignorance through tolerance and acceptance to inclusion. Inclusion is now much more the norm, but it’s not enough; it’s about respect.”
He added: “To work effectively in this marketplace you have to let the customer know you are comfortable with them. The way your sales interface happens can affect how people feel about your brand.”
Johnson cited an example of a gay couple who experienced a frosty reception at a London hotel when they had to reassert that they wanted the double room they had booked.
“You’ve paid your money to go on holiday and you shouldn’t have to walk into a hotel thinking ‘what’s about to happen?’” Johnson said.
Johnson pointed out that the acronym LGBT may soon be replaced by the more inclusive LGBTI, recognising an increasing awareness of intersex issues in society.
“Intersex people are becoming more visible and their unique issues are slowly becoming better understood,” he said.
“In Australia, for example, the acronym LGBTI has become the norm instead of LGBT and the global tourism industry definitely needs more education on what being intersex means.”
[photo by Ludovic Bertron]