What do LGBTQ Travelers Want in 2023?

A BIPOC woman in a bathing suit poses in front of a pool filled with floaties.

I like to keep a pulse on access and inclusion of LGBTQ travelers. Previously, I’ve dug into the results of a Booking.com survey of global LGBTQ travelers. Now, I’m excited to explore the top trends from a new report by MMGY and unpack the top takeaways for LGBTQ travelers in the US.

Before we dig into the data, it’s worth mentioning that a majority of those surveyed (60%) belong to Gen Z and Millennial generations.

These aren’t the preferences of older demographics – they’re what younger, active travelers expect.

LGBTQ Travelers Want to be Seen

Representation matters.

43 percent of travelers said inclusive marketing materials would create a sense of confidence when planning travel.

When places use images of LGBTQ travelers in their marketing materials, it sends a message that queer people are welcome here.

Let’s be clear. It’s good common sense to create marketing material that’s inclusive of marginalized travelers. But it isn’t always top of mind for destinations.

When destinations use the same stock images of cisgender, heterosexual, white couples in their marketing, they tell travelers that cis, white, straight people go there.

When they don’t see us there, we don’t see ourselves there.

But it isn’t just a gesture toward meaningful inclusion to diversity images in marketing material, it makes good financial sense for destinations.

LGBTQ travelers spend more than the average traveler. We also travel more often.

By demonstrating allyship with LGBTQ travelers, destinations can influence our travel decisions and capture more of our tourism dollars.

A white man in a bathing suit diving into a lake.

Let’s be clear, I’m talking about clear and actionable allyship, not pink washing. I never condone destinations pinkwashing.

Pinkwashing is when an entity paints itself as LGBTQ-friendly to distract from criticism for other issues. Pinkwashing is also when businesses court LGBTQ customers with Pride-themed ad campaigns during Pride month, but don’t actually know or care about their LGBTQ customers as a demographic. Instead, they see us as piggybanks.

Real allyship shows an understanding and respect for LGBTQ people as people first, travelers second. So while images of LGBTQ people can convince tourists to give a destination a look, they should be backed up with action.

LGBTQ+ Travelers Want to be Safe

Close to 50 percent of queer travelers named safety as a concern. Fifty-two percent mentioned state laws as impacting their travel decisions. Given the rise of anti-trans laws, it’s no surprise that LGBTQ tourists are paying attention.

Anti-trans laws don’t just affect trans travelers. They impact gay and lesbian travel too. Bad laws signify that queer travelers aren’t welcome to be ourselves.

We don’t want to be harassed in a destination. We don’t want to be asked invasive questions. We don’t want to modify our behavior by not holding hands in public or second-guessing whether it’s safe to share a kiss.

So often, we choose not to visit places with anti-LGBTQ laws.

I wasn’t surprised that safety was a top concern of LGBTQ travelers. But I am excited to see that half of queer travelers aren’t focused on it.

It’s a sign that the LGBTQ travel conversation is finally moving beyond safety considerations to consider other aspects of trip planning.

If you’re nervous about traveling alone, going with an LGBTQ group can help. Here are 7 LGBTQ outdoor groups that lead wilderness trips.

A group of campers huddled around a fire at night.

LGBTQ+ Travelers Want to Relax

Queer travelers want to explore new places, check off bucket-list destinations, unwind solo or with friends and family, and relax. Over 80 percent of those surveyed named relaxation and seeing new places as the top motivators for travel planning.

Like most people, LGBTQ travelers want to relax and have fun. That’s why it’s so exciting to see the conversation on queer travel evolve beyond whether it’s safe to how we can enjoy ourselves.

What about Pride Travel?

Pride travel is a big aspect of the mainstream gay and lesbian travel conversation.

Some gay and lesbian travelers plan vacations around Pride events – but it’s actually not as big on an influence as you might expect.

Only around forty percent of LGBTQ travelers surveyed named LGBTQ-specific events like Pride tourism as a motivator when planning travel.

This is another really exciting opportunity to move LGTBTQ travel beyond celebrations of our identity, by centering pinkwashed corporate float parades, and see LGBTQ people are whole people, inclusive of but not limited to our sexualities and gender identities

A BIPOC woman in a bathing suit and wrap posing in front of a swimming pool filled with floaties.

Fellow LGBTQ travelers, what trends are you most excited about? Share in the comments below!


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