Tourism stake­hold­ers to dis­cuss gay and les­bian travel

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

Some Caribbean des­ti­na­tions are be­ing en­cour­aged to go af­ter the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der (LGBT) mar­ket while oth­ers have been told they should first de­ter­mine if it is among their top three pri­or­ity niches be­fore al­lo­cat­ing funds for out­reach pro­grammes to this com­mu­nity.

David Pais­ley, the se­nior re­search di­rec­tor at Com­mu­nity Mar­ket­ing and In­sights, a Cal­i­for­nia-based mar­ket re­search firm that spe­cial­izes in out­reach to the LGBT com­mu­nity and which works with tourism bu­reaus to reach out to that com­mu­nity, said that while gay and les­bian travel is lu­cra­tive, not all des­ti­na­tions are at­tracted to it.

“For some des­ti­na­tions the gay and les­bian mar­ket makes a lot of sense, for oth­ers it does not. I look at the Caribbean as a whole, I think some des­ti­na­tions prob­a­bly should be go­ing af­ter the LGBT mar­ket, other des­ti­na­tions might need a sit­ter. Is this a sort of mar­ket that falls into your top three niches or not? That doesn’t mean you are an LGBT un­friendly place. It just means your bud­get is lim­ited and you need to go af­ter the low-hang­ing fruit, the cus­tomers who are most easy to get,” noted Pais­ley who said that over 100 tourism bu­reaus have out­reach pro­grammes to gay and les­bian trav­ellers. He will present on the sub­ject at the Caribbean Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion (CTO)’s State of the In­dus­try Con­fer­ence (SOTIC) in Cu­ra­cao next month as part of a panel en­ti­tled ‘Busi­ness Op­por­tu­ni­ties: Teach Me to Niche’ which will also ex­plore en­ter­tain­ment tourism and the mil­len­nial mar­ket.

“Gay and les­bian travel can be a real eco­nomic boom for some places and some des­ti­na­tions rec­og­nize that and are go­ing af­ter that mar­ket,” added Pais­ley.

He ex­plained that the LGBT sec­tor trav­els and spends more than its main­stream coun­ter­parts, par­tic­u­larly on ho­tels, restau­rants and shop­ping. His pre­sen­ta­tion will fo­cus on the num­bers, as well as strate­gies, that have worked for des­ti­na­tions that reach out to this mar­ket.

“What I want to em­pha­size is some of the sta­tis­tics around the LGBT com­mu­nity and why it is a lu­cra­tive mar­ket, and try to get peo­ple to bet­ter un­der­stand why is it there are over 100 tourism bu­reaus that are ac­tively out­reach­ing to the LGBT com­mu­nity to­day,” Pais­ley said.

“I want to break some of the myths. Gays and les­bians are like ev­ery­one else out there; we are trav­el­ling to a place be­cause we want to have com­fort, we want to have fun, we want to have a good time, we want to get out of work and our reg­u­lar lives. The ba­sic mo­ti­va­tions for why we travel are ex­actly the same as ev­ery­one else and I want to talk about some of the out­reach strate­gies that have been suc­cess­ful for other des­ti­na­tions.”

The CTO State of the In­dus­try Con­fer­ence, the pre­em­i­nent tourism gath­er­ing in the re­gion, takes place Oc­to­ber 21-23. It brings to­gether tourism de­ci­sion-mak­ers in­clud­ing min­is­ters, com­mis­sion­ers and di­rec­tors of tourism, ho­tel and air­line ex­ec­u­tives, travel agents, stu­dents, the media and per­sons di­rectly and in­di­rectly in­volved in tourism. It is pre­ceded by CTO busi­ness meet­ings in­clud­ing meet­ings of the board of di­rec­tors and the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters and Com­mis­sion­ers of Tourism. This year’s con­fer­ence, which has as its theme, Caribbean Tourism: Growth Through In­no­va­tion, will be held at the World Trade Cen­ter in Cu­raçao’s cap­i­tal, Willem­stad.

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