Book review:
Handbook of LGBT Tourism & Hospitality, by Jeff Guaracino and Ed Salvato

From “Le Guide Gris (The Grey Guide),” the first travel guide written for gay male travelers in 1958, to recent groundbreaking trans travel and LGBT family travel initiatives launched by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, the rainbow paradigm has dramatically shifted for queer travelers.

EDGE has always made it our mission to deliver a breadth of LGBT travel experiences for our readers, including our annual “7 Gay Wonders of the World,” which has included the iconic (San Francisco), the cultural (Vienna), and the adventurous (Nepal). But what informs these choices is a dedicated network of LGBT professionals around the globe who diligently work to ensure that you’re welcome no matter your sexual orientation or gender identification.

Jeff Guaracino and Ed Salvato are at the forefront of documenting and advocating for LGBT travel industry. Their recently released “Handbook of LGBT Tourism and Hospitality” (2017, Harrington Park Press) is a road map not only for professionals but also for the LGBT traveler who wants to gain a better understanding of how the industry is evolving. We’re proud to share with these exclusive excerpts on the state of LGBT travel and what it means to be “rainbow proud.”

Why It Matters
Homophobia still exists today – but the tourism and hospitality industries can combat it. Not every community, country or business welcomes LGBT travelers. Among the hundreds of global destinations that are looking for new visitors, relatively few actively reach out to LGBT travelers.

The industry is starting to get a better sense of the LGBT community’s buying power through technology, research and government agencies. For example, Facebook allows users to self-identify as LGBT, more research studies ask questions about sexual orientation and history and the U.S. Census tracks same-sex households. Out Now Consulting’s LGBT2030 research – which measures LGBT consumer spending, purchasing habits and brand preferences in 24 countries – reports that U.S. gay travelers spend $52.3 billion a year.

Top Trends in Gay Travel
LGBT travel is now recognized as part of the entire economic spectrum.
LGBT travel was originally defined as a luxury market. Today it is recognized as a market comprising people from across the economic spectrum.

The gay male market still is composed mostly of DINKS.
Gay men are mostly still a “dual income, no kids” market, though more gay millennials may opt to have children in the future.

The all-gay guesthouse is losing ground.
A few major resort towns – Provincetown, Palm Springs and Fort Lauderdale among them – support the remaining gay guesthouses, but integration is the trend. To survive, all-gay guesthouses need to establish a relationship with younger gay men.

More countries on more continents are reaching out to the LGBT traveler.
LGBT travel is no longer just about North America. Asia, South America, Central America and Africa are trying to attract LGBT travelers.

LGBT baby boomers have money, and they’re willing to spend it.
This is a generation with plenty of disposable income, a propensity to travel and a willingness to self-identify as gay.

Putting the ‘T’ in LGBT Travel
Who is the trans traveler? The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau in partnership with Community Marketing & Insights launched the first-ever transgender travel survey in 2014. The results may surprise you.

  • Trans travelers are mostly white, highly educated and young.
  • Unlike gay travelers, trans travelers are more likely to travel solo at least sometimes (62 percent).
  • Trans travelers are more likely to define themselves as budget travelers (54 percent).
  • The top three U.S. destinations for trans travelers are New York City, San Francisco and Atlanta.
  • The top tip to attract trans travelers (from trans travelers) is for destinations to implement nondiscrimination and trans-friendly policies and laws to improve safety.

A Family Affair
How do we define LGBT families? They can be any family with an openly gay family member of any age. These families are looking for inclusive family experiences that appeal to several different generations. Kids are not always part of the equation.

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau released its LGBT Family Travel: A Study in 2016 with the following insights:

  • LGBT families are less likely to travel by plane, because of both the expense and the challenges of flying with children.
  • LGBT families like staying at the beach for three reasons: it’s free, kids always have a good time and they can be themselves – loud and messy – and no one cares.
  • While the general LGBT travel market can feel disproportionally focused on gay men, gay men do not form the majority of the LGBT parents market. Lesbians and bisexual women are more likely to be the head of household.
  • Of LGBT parents, 70 percent prefer a general vacation in an LGBT-friendly atmosphere with no specific LGBT programming.

Who’s Extending the Invitation? 5 Proactive LGBT Destinations and Companies
Fort Lauderdale is a top destination for LGBT travelers and home to the greatest number of same-sex couples in the country. The city welcomed a record-breaking 1.3 million LGBT visitors in 2013, representing 10 percent of all visitors to the city and spending $1.48 billion (14 percent of the city’s overall revenue).

Caesars Entertainment Corporation was awarded its 10th consecutive perfect rating from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (2017). One of the world’s largest gaming companies, Caesars is a major supporter of the LGBT community and seeks to provide world-class experiences for all its guests, who are encouraged to take part in LGBT events and products, including gay weddings and commitment ceremonies, honeymoon packages, nightlife and Pride events.

Philadelphia devotes significant resources to create a genuine invitation to LGBT travelers to visit the city. In addition, Visit Philadelphia’s robust and regularly updated LGBT microsite includes stories, pictures and videos that speak directly to potential gay and lesbian visitors, which translate into a global 24-hour “You are welcome” sign pointing toward the City of Brotherly Love.

The definitive gay-friendly American Airlines is the world’s largest airline and continues to set the benchmark in the airline industry for its progressive approach toward LGBT travelers and employees. It was the first major airline to implement same-sex domestic partner benefits (2000) as well as the first to endorse the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (2008).

LGBT tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments in Japan. The total number of international travelers to Japan in 2014 was 13.41 million. Tokyo is the most gay-friendly area in Japan, Shinjuku Ni-ch?me in particular (the popular gay section). Beyond Tokyo and Out Asia Travel are two tour operators that can help plan an LGBT-friendly itinerary.

For more information, click here.

Jeff Guaracino is the author of Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing and is a highly regarded expert in LGBT marketing, tourism and large-scale events.

Ed Salvato is the chief content officer for ManAboutWorld, the world’s No. 1 digital gay travel magazine for smartphones and tablets.

Reviewed by Matthew Wexler