South Africa - Gay Tourist Hot Spot

A new report on Gay Tourism has been published by the United Nations World Tourism Association (UNTWO) in partnership with the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.

The Global Report on LGBT Tourism was released in January 2012 and found that destinations offering a tolerant culture were reaping the benefits of increased travel to – and spend by – gay travellers.

However, the report cautioned against making assumptions about this market, as sexuality is not necessarily an indicator of socio-economic status or leisure choices. Although difficult to accurately measure the impact of gay tourism, sources in the USA attribute 5% of tourism spend to the LGBT market while in South Africa's Cape Town, this is thought to be 10-15% of all tourists.

Progressive attitudes in countries such as South Africa, Argentina, India, Spain, Mexico and South Korea have attracted queer tourists in droves. The wedding market for this sector is a big driver and the LGBT sector appears to have bucked the recession trend bringing higher than average spend to their holiday destinations. In addition, the advent of same-sex marriage laws have meant that many gay couples are now travelling with children and spending in the family market.

Generally well versed in digital media, gay travel is influenced by social media and digital or actual word of mouth.

Cape Town is a favourite with gay travellers worldwide for its beauty, diverse lifestyle, colourful people and large local gay population. South African events such as Gay Pride Parades currently held in several SOuth African cities throughout the year, The Pink Loeries Mardi Gras, the Out in Africa Film Festival, the annual Mother City Queer Project Party and other local LGBT events are further reasons for LGBT travellers to choose SA as their destination. South Africa is also set to host the Mr Gay World pageant this year.

The UK’s Guardian newspaper recently recognised Cape Town as ‘One of the Ten Most Popular Gay Destinations in the World.’

Destination marketing associations who were successfully attracting the LGBT market were working proactively at gay-targeted expos and fairs but were also aligned with equal rights organisations that promoted tolerance. Says the International LGBT Travel Association, “reaching out to LGBT travellers in an informed, authentic manner is essential”.

In particular, LGBT travellers were sensitive to destinations who were only interested in their money.


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