Happy New Year! As we enter 2023 I’ve been thinking about what kinds of trends we might be able to expect in the year ahead for the LGBTQ community when it comes to travel. I started being a travel content creator with a focus on gay-friendly destinations back in 2017 (although I did get my first media fam trip in 2015, but it just wasn’t my main focus/niche yet) and although that’s only a few years ago, I’ve already seen a lot of changes in the space as attitudes, expectations, and best practices have shifted.
The LGBTQ community has thankfully come a long way in terms of acceptance and equality, and this is especially true in the world of travel. From specialized tour operators and LGBTQ-owned accommodations, to destination marketing campaigns targeting LGBTQ travelers specifically, it’s clear that the industry is making an effort to be increasingly more inclusive and welcoming to all.
So what does the year ahead hold for LGBTQ travel? Here are a few trends that I think we can expect to see, if not this year, certainly not too far into the future:
- Increased representation and inclusivity at a mainstream travel. Previously LGBTQ travellers often had to seek out specialized tour operators or accommodations that were specifically geared towards our community. As society becomes ever more accepting and inclusive we can expect to see mainstream travel brands making an effort to be more overtly LGBTQ-friendly as well. This could include everything from inclusive advertising campaigns to training for employees on how to be make LGBTQ travellers feel more welcome.
- New and growing LGBTQ events and festivals. Pride events, which of course originally started as small demonstrations for LGBTQ rights, have now become major cultural events which draw millions of visitors each year. From parades in major cities to smaller events in more remote destinations, these events are a key driver of LGBTQ travel. We can surely expect to see this trend continue, with more destinations getting in on the action and hosting their own LGBTQ events and festivals (like when I was invited by Destination Osoyoos to attend their first Pride festival just this past summer).
- A focus on LGBTQ-owned and operated businesses. Supporting businesses with LGBTQ owners has always been important for many members of the community, and this is especially true when it comes to travel. In the future I assume we can expect to see a greater emphasis on finding and supporting LGBTQ-owned hotels, resorts, B&Bs, and tour operators. It not only helps to support the LGBTQ community, but also to ensure that travellers will have a welcoming and inclusive experience.
- More destinations becoming LGBTQ-friendly in general. While there are still many tourist spots that aren’t particularly welcoming to LGBTQ travellers, I’m confident we can expect to see more and more places embracing the community and actively marketing themselves as being friendly to our community. This could include everything from cities with thriving LGBTQ events/businesses/organizations to more remote destinations that are looking to reach LGBTQ travellers who aren’t necessarily looking for the typical LGBTQ party scene.
- A focus on intersectionality within the LGBTQ community. While the LGBTQ community is often seen as a monolithic entity, the reality is that it is made up of many different subgroups, each with their own unique experiences/needs/interests/desires. We can likely expect to see a greater focus on intersectionality within the LGBTQ travel community, with more attention being paid to the specific needs of LGBTQ travellers who are also people of colour, disabled, or part of other marginalized groups.
- Greater recognition of the economic impact of LGBTQ travel. The LGBTQ travel market is a major contributor to the global economy, with an estimated spending power of $211 billion. As more destinations and businesses recognize the economic benefits of catering to LGBTQ travellers I think we can expect to see more efforts made to attract and retain this lucrative market segment.
Overall the future of LGBTQ travel looks bright and increasingly better for our community, which is great news since compared to the general population we spend more on travel and take more trips, especially internationally. With increased representation and inclusivity in mainstream travel, the continued growth of LGBTQ events and festivals, a focus on LGBTQ-owned businesses, and more destinations becoming LGBTQ-friendly, there are many reasons to be hopeful. As the industry continues to evolve and become more inclusive, LGBTQ travellers will have more opportunities than ever before to explore the world and have meaningful travel experiences.
As a gay man myself, often travelling with my same-sex partner or on my own, I’m of course always looking for destinations that make an effort to make me feel welcome. I want to know that I won’t be uncomfortable, I can avoid awkward situations, and above all I can feel safe. It’s what most of our community want when we’re away from home, and increasingly destinations (and their residents who work in the travel industry) are realizing this and taking action for the benefit of everyone involved.