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Despite the progression of gender and equality rights in numerous countries around the world, LGBTQIA+ travel still remains a more niche area of the travel industry as a whole; but given that today's traveler is more savvy and more focused on recieving bespoke customer service than ever before, it's important that you understand how to curate their perfect holiday!
Of course, it goes without saying that each customers’ idea of ‘bespoke’ will vary, but at its heart this relies on important customer service factors - everything from understanding unique considerations and preferences, offering the best destinations for their circumstances, to knowing what’s in-demand in your market.
The latter of which is where our powerful search tool The Compass turns into an invaluable tool for travel advisors, with its ability to analyse what competitors and in-market travelers are booking, and forecasting trends up to 9 months into the future.
It’s also exclusively for our travel partners – so why not register now to make the most of this AI driven search and marketing tool?
Not only do we hope this article helps you get inspiration to deliver bespoke holidays to your clients, but also gives you an inkling into the valuable insights you get working with a travel partner like Bedsonline when it comes to maximizing your selling opportunities, and meeting demand. LGBTQIA+ travel is a fast-growing audience and one that as travel advisors you'd be remiss not to capitalize on.
Now, for the destinations!
Did you know that February is LGBT History Month in the UK and many countries in Europe? So timed to coincide with the abolishment of Section 28 - which is a key date in British and some European countries’ equal rights history - this is a period of time where it’s important to consider how your travel agency is catering to the needs of this fast-growing audience.
Spain has long been at the forefront of the equal rights movement for the LGBTQIA+ community, and Barcelona in particular is one of the most welcoming of Spanish cities. At the heart of it’s LGBTQIA+ district is Eixample - also known locally as Gaixample - which is home to a wide range of friendly bars, shops and restaurants.
The best way to enjoy Barcelona is to stroll the streets and soak up the relaxed, ambient atmosphere, and Gaixample is a great place to start some of the city’s traditional sightseeing routes such as through the Gothic Quarter and the Modernisme trail. Extra stops which LGBTQIA+ travelers might add onto these routes include Raval, Poble-sec and Poblenou, where there are regular parties hosted for the community by a number of clubs.
Malta has been officially voted the most LGBTQIA+ friendly place in Europe and has consistently hit the top few spots on the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index every year since 2016 - and currently holds first place! Each island - Malta, Gozo and Comino - is filled with welcoming locals and other tourists, all looking to appreciate Malta’s stunning scenery, and rich historical and archeological sites, not to mention its incredible cuisine! The areas of Floriana, Sliema and St Julian’s on Malta’s central island are particularly of note, for amazing bars and nightlife.
While not technically part of Europe, we couldn’t compile a list of the most LGBTQIA+ friendly destinations around the world and not include the UK’s loudest, proudest city. Renowned for being the queer capital of the UK, Brighton is a perfect location to experience the best of English charm and the bustle of London, just smaller! While the whole city is welcoming, with more pubs, accommodation, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and artistic hubs than travelers could ever hope to experience in just one visit, the suburb of Kemptown is the heart of the LGBTQIA+ scene in Brighton, with it’s small-town atmosphere, boutique shops, quiet cafes and delicious delis.
As with many Scandinavian countries, a higher level of LGBTQIA+ integration into the city itself means that the commercial scene is slightly more limited - at front-facing value - because LGBTQIA+ considerations are more established in the working of the city itself. Scandinavia is renowned for being forward-thinking, especially with regards to gender equality both in the workplace and private realms, so it’s no surprise that it ranks highly as a destination ideally suited for LGBTQIA+ travel. Visitors can enjoy a beer in one of Europe’s oldest gay bars Centralhjornet, which also hosts drag brunches as well as Sunday jazz sessions all year round! Heralded as the ‘LGTBQ neighborhood of Scandinavia’, Copenhagen is definitely a stand-out recommendation.
Did you know that you can search for unique activities in each of these European destinations using our Booking Engine?
New York City, NY
It’s no surprise that the Big Apple hits the top of the list when we consider the most LGBTQIA+ friendly places in America. It’s here that the Stonewall Uprising took place in 1969, after police raided the Stonewall Inn, which was the catalyst from which the modern gay rights movement was born. Now New York and Brooklyn are home to one of the biggest drag queen artist scenes in the world, as well as multiple boroughs where the deep and historical connection to the LGBTQIA+ community can be keenly felt. West Village and Hell’s Kitchen are of particular note as must-visits.
Filled with creatives and business owners alike, metropolitan areas and artistic hubs, Austin is a truly unique city to explore, and has positioned itself as one of the most pioneering cities in the USA for the community and is one of the most LGBTQIA+ friendly cities in the United States. While the LGBTQIA+ scene is much more integrated than perhaps any other city in the USA, the city’s most notable community-friendly district is concentrated on West 4th Street - perfect for bar-hopping during the evening!
We recommend travelers enjoy a drink or two in one of Austin’s oldest gay bars, Oilcan Harry’s, before wandering downton West 4th Street and seeing what Austin can offer! Cheer Up Charlies is renowned for being one of the most accepting and fun bars/nightclubs in the city, while South Congress Avenue offers a calmer, more relaxed atmosphere.
Honourable mentions also go to San Francisco and Philadelphia, which are just as amazing destinations for travelers to visit, sightsee, and feel welcome! Explore some of the best accommodations on offer in New York, Austin, San Francisco and Philadelphia with our Booking Engine!
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The city’s rise to fame within the national and international LGBTQIA+ community began in the 1960’s as a result of the film Night of the Iguana by Tennesse Williams, and the steady influx of visitors from Hollywood encouraged the opening of community-friendly bars, hotels and restaurants - and culminated in the Puerto Vallarta that visitors can enjoy today! Naturally, some of the most popular times to visit this Mexican island are during Puerto Vallarta Carnival running from late February to early March, and during Puerto Vallarta Pride, celebrated on the last weekend of May.
Beach-goers can relax to their hearts’ content on the white-sand beaches, before diving into the vibrant nightlife of this city - making sure to discover the historic Blue Chairs Resort, as Puerto Vallarta’s first LGBTQIA+ bar.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina was the first country in Latin America to advance the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2010, including full adoption rights, and Buenos Ares is an unmissable destination where the cultures of both Latin America and Europe combine and create a bold, vibrant city. The society is very welcoming when it comes to LGBTQIA+ travel and while there is no discernable district within Buenos Aires for the community as in some other cities, the neighborhood of Palermo is notably popular with the community with its fashionable atmosphere.
San Telmo is the oldest barrio (quarter) in the city, bringing with it a rich culture and amazing food, while Recoleta offers some of the most popular tourist sites (such as the Cementerio de la Recoleta; a necropolis so exquisite it’s said to rival the Père Lachaise of Paris), and the unique combination of Latin American and European architecture.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Another destination that simply couldn’t be left off the list is Rio de Janeiro - and that’s any list, not just relating to LGBTQIA+ travel! This incredible city is perfect for travelers who want to visit somewhere where life and vitality are celebrated. Since the 1930’s Rio de Janeiro has been attracting members of the LGBTQIA+ community with its spectacular balls, and that still rings just as true for 2023 travel. The most notable neighborhoods are Ipanema and the nearby Leblon, with many popular nightlife establishments mixed in with galleries, museums and plenty of shopping opportunities. And of course, Rio de Janeiro’s annual Carnival celebration is not one to miss, as the event that kicks off Mardis Gras!
Not only is Sydney one of the best places in the Southern Hemisphere to visit for queer-friendly experiences, but it’s hosting the World Pride festival in 2023 - a bi-yearly festival that attracts visitors from all around the globe, which is set to be one of the biggest celebrations on record! Sydney also hosts the largest Pride celebration in the world, with its iconic Gay Mardi Gras. Despite only legalising same sex marriage in 2017, Sydney has long been accepting of the community and remains one of the best destinations to visit.
So we hope that this article has been insightful, and will help you to curate safe and comfortable travel experiences for your LGBTQIA+ travel clients!
After all, creating a reliable and trustworthy reputation as a travel agency is one of the most important factors in your journey to continually scale your business, and boost bookings. Doing this by ensuring that you’re covering niche audiences is one way to get a leg up on your competition, and improve the reputation of your business online.
What's shaping the world of travel in 2023? Find out with our travel trends guide!
⭐ Where your customers will want to travel in 2023
⭐ The accommodation trends you need to know
⭐ Rising trends, including luxury and sustainable travel
⭐ And the types of experiences your clients are thinking of booking!