London is the top international destination among American gay and lesbian travellers, according to the 12th Annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Survey conducted by Community Marketing, Inc. (CMI). Canada, where gay marriage is legal, dominates the international list with three of the top 10 destinations.

London was followed by Puerto Vallarta (Mexico) in second place, then Paris (3), Vancouver (4), Montreal (5), Toronto (6) and the US Virgin Islands (7). The top ten was rounded off by Cancun (8), Puerto Rico (9) and Rome (10).

Respondents indicated that they chose leisure destinations because friends recommended them, they offer unique attractions, and are known for their gay-friendliness.

“Clearly, when destinations show gay and lesbian visitors a good time, that is the best advertising investment they can make,” said Jerry McHugh, Senior Research Director at CMI, and the study’s architect.

“Word of mouth marketing is very powerful among the gay and lesbian community. It’s not enough to slap a rainbow on an ad and call it a day. The most successful destinations work with their tourism and hospitality partners to earn that kind of loyalty and referral. This is accomplished through education, training, and offering a genuinely gay-welcoming social and political atmosphere,” he said.

“For years, London has consistently marketed itself to the LGBT community,” said Martine Ainsworth-Wells, Marketing Director, Visit London. “In addition, the city supports its active LGBT community and has welcomed high profile events such as Pride and the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. By marketing to the LGBT community abroad and supporting our LGBT community at home, London is now recognised as the gay capital of the world.”

Within the US, New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles/West Hollywood, and Ft. Lauderdale/Wilton Manors were the top five domestic destinations for the country’s gay and lesbian travellers.

7,561 LGBT consumers, the vast majority from the US, completed the fifteen-minute online questionnaire. It is said to be the largest consumer survey of its kind.

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