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‘‘Governmental tourism office backing for LGBT marketing outreach will help put India on the gay map’’

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Worldwide how big is the market segment for LGBT tourism? Which are the most popular countries?

John Tanzella

This is very difficult to quantify, because accurate global data doesn’t exist. There have been surveys done in a handful of countries. For example, Community Marketing Inc estimates the economic impact of the LGBT travel market in the US alone at US$ 65 billion annually. But they will tell you that’s only an estimate.

What, according to you, will be the new hotspots for LGBT tourism globally?

We see continued growth for Latin America, with LGBT travellers hitting destinations beyond the obvious urban centres in Brazil and Argentina. Peru continues to rise in popularity as well.

What will be the new emerging trends / products for this segment?

As more countries/ states pass same-sex marriage laws, LGBT honeymoon travel will grow in popularity.

What is your perception of India as a destination for LGBT tourism?

India is a destination with enormous potential due to its amazing historic and cultural sites. Gay travellers are no different from their mainstream counterparts in that regard – everyone is wowed by the Taj Mahal regardless of sexual orientation. The LGBT scene is still very closeted, but it does exist in major city centres and can be found with the aid of local tour guides.

What needs to be done in India – by the government (central and state tourism boards), industry associations, travel agents and hotels to develop this segment?

We would like to see more businesses in India get involved with IGLTA, certainly. Our member-based association provides marketing tools, networking opportunities and educational resources to help destinations get established in the LGBT market. We have some travel business members in India, but governmental tourism office backing for widespread LGBT marketing outreach will help put India on the gay map. It’s important for gay travellers to believe that the destination where they are spending their money actually wants to welcome them and is not just after their wallets.

Any particular products that should be developed to attract this segment in India?

Tours that are inclusive of LGBT travellers are important. They don’t have to be all-gay, but even little things like offering a hotel package for same-sex couples or an outing to a gay nightclub goes a long way.