Pride makes some people hit the road, but not all
'Gay Pride' events have become big business, especially for tourism marketing offices who increasingly promote them to shine a spotlight on their destination in a competitive LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) tourism market.
New research reveals just how much of a draw they can be to attract international LGBT tourists - and from where. The list contains some surprising countries where local LGBT people cite Pride events as a very important motivating factor when planning their next vacation. But in other countries - such as the Netherlands and Germany - the research shows that LGBT people are far less motivated to plan their vacations around attending a city's local Pride events.
June is an important month for LGBT communities around the world, as many cities in the northern hemisphere gear up for annual Pride celebrations. This year marks 45 years since the Stonewall Riots, which began on June 28, 1969 in New York, kick-starting the modern 'gay rights parades' which in many places have become about as much about celebration of progress achieved as about protests for equalities yet to be won.
Things have changed almost unrecognizably over these past four and a half decades. Many places now boast of newly minted equal rights for LGBT people - something well worth celebrating. Nowadays you are quite likely to see a group of police officers marching in a Pride parade - rather than trying to break one up.
New research from the LGBT2020 study has revealed for the first time exactly how much LGBT people from countries all over the world are motivated to travel to a particular city because of an LGBT Pride, Film or other LGBT cultural festival.
Pride celebrations are now much more than just a parade followed by large-scale parties. Many now include weeks of festival programming and events including myriad arts and cultural festivals, seminars and educational conferences, community fundraising galas and sporting competitions.
Pride events are now major draws for tourists, attracting a massive influx of cashed-up tourists keen for fun - that also provides a vital boost to local economies.
Financial tourism impacts resulting mean many are now officially supported and endorsed by local governments, becoming an intrinsic part of the cultural landscape of many large cities. The Mayor of London is a headline supporter of Pride in London at the end of this month.
It is even difficult now to imagine some of the world's major cities, like Sydney, absent their Pride celebrations - so great is the cultural contribution of these events to making a modern, progressive world city, that wants to be seen internationally as fun, cosmopolitan and inclusive.
Out Now Global LGBT2020 research reveals that LGBT people from Turkey top the table for tourists most likely to be motivated to travel to attend a city's Pride celebrations, followed by Japanese and Israeli LGBT travelers.
Who Does Pride Motivate to Travel?
The LGBT2020 research project is the largest research study into the lives of LGBT people from around the world that has ever been undertaken, and has since 2010 sampled respondents in 13 languages, and in more than 20 countries across all five continents. Findings from the LGBT2020 study are providing the clearest picture that has ever existed into the lives of LGBT people right across the world, collecting data on a diverse range of topics including workplace issues, harassment and discrimination, consumer patterns and behaviour, internet usage and tourism.
The 2014 survey includes the following question asking respondents how important LGBT Prides were to them when making their travel plans. "How important can a local LGBT Pride, Film or other LGBT cultural festival be in motivating you to choose to visit a particular destination at the time of that festival?"
The results varied greatly according to country and region, and are ranked above in order of total respondents who answered either 'often important' or 'sometimes important' to the question.
This new data reveals that Pride events, and other LGBT festivals can play an important part in attracting LGBT visitors to particular destinations. But destinations and LGBT organizations need to understand that not all LGBT people want to visit when a large gay community event is happening. The fact that one of the landmark events in any city's annual calendar is a Pride event sends out a strong message to LGBT people that they are more likely to be welcomed in that destination at other times of the year. Pride festivals reflect attributes about a destination that resonate strongly with almost any tourist - including respect, safety, acceptance and equality.
Tourism offices that place all their tourism marketing focus on large Pride events are missing out on a year-round LGBT tourism potential.
Relying solely on a Pride event to attract LGBT tourism - no matter how large and well-organised - is no longer in 2014 the most effective tourism marketing strategy. Events do still matter - especially to attract travellers from some newer markets, like India, Brazil, Israel and Turkey - but a broader, year-round approach is what is really needed to yield stronger results from more established LGBT markets. That is how a destination can build sustainable and growing LGBT tourism returns. That is especially so when trying to attract LGBT tourism from key markets such as the USA, Germany, UK and Germany.
Pride might be an important event for a destination but it is usually by no means sufficient to be the core part of a place's LGBT tourism marketing strategy.
Other travel factors matter. Prioritizing staff training in hotels and tourist attractions, focusing on a broad range of attributes of a destination and making sure that LGBT people consistently understand they are genuinely welcomed are key to LGBT tourism market success in 2014.
Out Now works with a large number of LGBT tourism clients, most recently launching the highly successful 'Love is GREAT' campaign for VisitBritain into the US market.