Community Marketing, Inc. (CMI) the San Francisco based LGBT market research and communications firm, completed its 13th annual LGBT Tourism Study on October 23rd, and is releasing the surveys key findings. CMI has been studying and reporting on LGBT tourism demographics and trends since 1994. This year, the studys industry, media and educational partners include IGLTA, USTOA, ASTA, DMAI, CLIA, NTA, Travel Weekly, and the University of Nevada. Over 4,000 geographically representative LGBT American consumers were surveyed about their travel patterns.
The CMI Study explored a variety of timely topics, including research and booking preferences, rating the marketing campaigns of destinations, airlines and hotels, and more. Participants were also asked how the softening economy influenced their travel frequency over the past year, preferred terminology in tourism marketing, and travel to Pride and other community events. Couples were asked if and where they plan to marry.
The Economy: The economy has slowed the growth of LGBT travel this past year. “A sequence of annual studies has shown travel growth year over year” reported David Paisley, Senior Research Analyst of Community Marketing, Inc. “This past year, however, we have seen stagnation in most travel segments.” That said, CMI has observed that the gay and lesbian community has been traditionally less impacted by economic fluctuationscompared to their mainstream counterpartsand tend to bounce back faster. “Looking further into the numbers we found that about a third of the survey participants decreased their travel over the past 12 months,” added Paisley. “But a third traveled similarly to last year, and about a third increased their travel, taking advantage of the many travel bargains in the market.”
Top Destinations: “New York City maintained its enviable position as the #1 destination in the U.S. among LGBT American travelers,” Paisley said. “New York has just about everything that gay and lesbian travelers look for in an urban destination: Theatre, cuisine, shopping, night life, and some of the worlds best museums.” New York has maintained the #1 position for many years.
San Francisco placed #3 for leisure travel and #5 for business travel, but its high rankings in both categories allowed the city to be the #2 overall most-visited destination. Chicago ranked as the #1 business travel destination. Las Vegas ranked as the #2 leisure destination. Other cities ranking in the top ten of either leisure or business travel include: Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Springs, Washington DC, San Diego, Miami, Dallas, Atlanta and Boston.
“CMI doesnt chart rankings by popular opinion or a ‘gay-friendly’ reputation,” said Paisley. “Our study focuses on the bottom line: A destination’s market position is based on overnight visits by LGBT consumers in the past 12 months. CMI has also identified clear differences in destination choice between men and women and among age groups. For example, a city that is popular among Baby Boomer gay men may not rank the same for Generation X lesbians.
For a complete US list (broken down by vacation/business/both), click here.
“Great Britain is the worlds #1 destination outside of North America.” Paisley said, “The remarkable rise of Britain, and especially London as the international gay capital, over the past five years is a validation of their tourism offices’ consistent outreach to our community. Britain bypassed the Netherlands (#1 in the 90s and now #6) several years ago, and just kept going.
For a complete Europe list, click here.
Top Canadian destinations include Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, with Vancouver being the top leisure destination, Toronto being the top business destination, and their combined scores being almost tied. Montreal also ranked very strong. Canada, with its freedom to marry, gay-welcoming cities, and the return of a favorable exchange rate, is increasingly loved and admired among LGBT American consumers, said Paisley.
For a complete Canada list, click here.
Mexico/Caribbean destination leaders include Puerto Vallarta, #1 and in the lead among three other Mexican destinations in the top ten; Argentina is the leading South American destination; China is the top destination in the Asia/Pacific region, followed by Japan and Australia; and South Africa is the community’s primary destination on the continent.
For a complete Other Destination list, click here.
Marriage Plans: CMIs LGBT Consumer Index study asked couples about plans to marry in the coming year. Of the 7,634 LGBT Americans indicating they are in a relationship but not yet in a government-recognized union, 12% indicated plans to marry in California, 5% plan to marry in Massachusetts, and 3% will marry in Canada. About 7% will “register in another country or state,” either as a marriage where legal, or as a domestic partner or civil union. Connecticut, because it only recently legalized same-sex marriage, was not included on the list. “Assuming that Proposition 8 does not pass, California is poised to see significant business in same-sex wedding tourism over the next year,” Paisley said.
Tourism and hospitality leaders around the world use CMIs research and analysis as a basis for feasibility evaluations, positioning, economic impact, and informed forecasting and marketing planning. Key findings have been published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, BrandWeek, Diversity, Inc. and most other national and regional media covering the LGBT markets.
For information about CMIs research methodology, participant sources and differences among LGBT research approaches, please download our PDF.