Cities across the world are welcoming LGBT travellers, and most travel companies are now offering packages that are geared toward the LGBT community. Today, it’s estimated that gay and lesbian tourism equates to more than $65 billion per year in the US alone, and this number will only continue to climb and have an impact on the travel industry.
According to a 19th annual LGBT tourism study conducted by Community Marketing Inc., it’s estimated that “the annual economic impact of LGBT travelers is over US $100 billion per year in the U.S. alone.” The study also found that:
- LGBT travellers recorded a 9% positive increase rating in their leisure travel score in 2014
- 29% of those surveyed are frequent travellers, taking five or more leisure trips per year
- LGBT travellers strongly prefer to travel to destinations that they consider safe and that do not have laws that discriminate against LGBT residents and travellers
- 11% indicated that they are willing to travel to a country that has laws against LGBT people
The most important motivating factors for LGBT travellers in choosing a destination include recommendations from friends, unique attractions and destinations known for their gay-friendliness.
So, what are the most gay-friendly cities?
- New York City: Home of the gay pride movement, New York City has cemented itself as the top destination for gay travellers for decades. If you plan to visit, be sure to check out G Lounge, Posh Bar & Lounge, the Boiler Room and Therapy. The top gay-friendly hotels are Hudson Hotel, Dream Hotel, Bryant Park Hotel and Le Parker Meridien.
- San Francisco: Known as the most gay-friendly city in the world, San Francisco is one of the most popular destinations for the LGBT community. “The world's most gay-friendly city is now even more friendly with California allowing same-sex marriage… Although New York may have surpassed it in diversity, it's in San Francisco's Castro District that you still feel like you're at the center of the gay world. There are gay events and attractions happening throughout the year, complementing the offer of gay and gay-friendly bars and restaurants,” says UCityGuides.
- Toronto: Home to one of the largest annual pride celebrations, Toronto hosts more than one million LGBT tourists during pride week each year. “Toronto continues to be a beacon for the LGBTQ traveller in North America, and Canada is hands down the most advanced and progressive nation in the Americas for the gay community. Toronto’s The Village, located in Church-Wellesley, is the cultural hub of the city, bursting with galleries, theatres and gay-friendly businesses,” says Chris Zeiher in Lonely Planet.
- Berlin, Germany: Many people don’t realize that Berlin is a popular LGBT tourist destination, but it has the most gay attractions of any city in the world, including a gay memorial and a gay museum. If you plan to visit Berlin, check out the districts of Schöneberg, Kreuzberg and Prenzlauerberg. These areas offer various bars, clubs and restaurants.
- Sitges, Spain: Now regarded as one of the top gay destinations in the world, the city is popular because of its long stretches of beaches and vibrant, cosmopolitan lifestyle. Sitges is home to Spain’s first gay disco and is now considered one of Europe’s top four destinations for LGBT travellers.
Other popular gay-friendly cities include Amsterdam, Netherlands; Copenhagen, Denmark; Palm Springs, Florida; Mykonos, Greece; and Miami, Florida.