How does the gay community travel?  Last week, Community Marketing, Inc. (CMI) released the results of their 16th Annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Report, compiled from polling over 10,000 self-identified gay and lesbian consumers.  The company estimates the annual economic impact of LGBT travelers is, in the United States alone, over $65 billion per year.

Here are some of their key findings for North American LGBT travelers:

  • Overall, the LGBT community has increased their travel in the last year, compared to the year before. Most destinations surveyed increased LGBT travel by 1 to 3% in the past year. This is in contrast to the last two years, which saw a decrease in LGBT travel due to the global economic recession.
  • CMI’s annual destination rankings did not see much change from the previous year. However some cities did see a more significant increase. New York City has always been the number one LGBT destination in the USA and the city has slightly increased its lead. New Orleans continues to gain visitors and is approaching pre-Katrina rankings. Miami continues to trend upwards and has jumped back into the top ten for USA destinations on the survey.
  • New York City scored #1 in all three key indicators; actual visits to the destination in the past 12 months, most gay-friendly destination in the world and personal favorite destination. Las Vegas, San Francisco and London also scored well in all three indicators.
  • Considering their size and number of hotel rooms, Provincetown, Key West and Palm Springs scored extremely well in all three indicators. If you would analyze the data by number of hotel rooms in a destination, these three destinations would be the most popular in the United States.
  • LGBT travelers, and especially gay men, are much more likely to describe themselves as “urban core travelers” than “eco travelers” or “outdoor adventure travelers.”
  • Survey results suggest the mid-range market is the biggest group among LGBT travelers, followed by economy/budget, and then luxury.
  • The LGBT economy/budget market is larger than many people assume. More LGBT travelers consider themselves to be economy/budget travelers than luxury travelers, indicating an opportunity for every tier of travel marketers.
  • Once gay men or lesbians have children, family-friendly travel preferences become more important than LGBT-friendly travel preferences by a 2-1 margin.
  • Attending LGBT events are key motivators within the LGBT community, generating a high number of hotel nights.  On average, gay men and lesbians spend three nights in a destination when traveling for an event.
  • “Gay Pride” is still a significant travel motivator for LGBTs under 35.  The younger generation is more likely to travel to another city for Pride than their older LGBT counterparts.
  • Results indicate that gay men and lesbians are more likely to avoid a destination because of recent LGBT violence than anti-LGBT laws.

Download the entire 16th Annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Report from the CMI website.

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