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Untapped Travel Market

Why it is smart to go after gay Canadian travelers

Nelson Alcantara, eTN editor-in-chief  Sep 07, 2011

Travel Gay Canada (TGC) has announced the findings of its second research study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-identified (LGBT) travelers. The finding? Gay Canadians show a market size of $7 billion annually. TGC estimates that there are 1.8 million gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender travelers from Canada and they spend on average $1,131 per trip last year.

“The gay and lesbian travel market has remained relatively untapped by many of Canada’s destinations and tourism-related businesses, and therefore represents a lucrative opportunity,” Travel Gay Canada said. “As more and more destinations outside of Canada begin to actively target this market, Canadian businesses and destinations need to act now to ensure it captures and maintains market share.”

Although the actual size of the population that identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-identified (LGBT) is unknown, according to TGC, it is estimated that in North America it’s close to 30 million people (6-8% of total population). “The total value of spending by the LGBT North American consumer market is estimated at 750 billion dollars, with tourism spending estimated to be more than 70 billion dollars.”

The study, conducted by the Protean Strategies, surveyed Canadian LGBT travelers in the Fall of 2010. The study showed that LGBT travelers spend nearly twice as much per trip as their straight counterparts ($1,131 vs. $597), LGBT travelers are almost twice as likely to go on vacation or leisure trips as the general public, LGBT travelers are more likely to travel frequently; on average those who travelled took 4.6 trips, and Canadian LGBT travelers on average spent $3,400 on travel in the previous twelve months (October 2009 to October 2010) and 40% intend to spend more in the next twelve months.

“This study confirms that there is a pent-up demand for increased travel within Canada among the gay community,” the managing partner of Protean Strategies, Laurence Bernstein, said. “This business could help to compensate for the loss of business coming to Canada from the US.”

“The domestic LGBT market is an important one for Canada,” said Darrell Schuurman of Travel Gay Canada. “Gay travelers’ travel more frequently, spend more per trip and are more likely to travel in the off-season than the mainstream market,” he added.

Travel Gay Canada said its research substantiates other research that has been conducted on gay travel, an important market identified by federal, provincial and regional tourism stakeholders. However, the critical findings are the domestic market’s size.

“For much of the Canadian tourism market, the gay market is still undeveloped and an untapped market. This research demonstrates that the domestic gay market is a force in itself,” said Schuurman. “At $7 billion dollars in Canada, gay travelers have significant impact. Certainly when we include gay travelers from the US and other countries, the market size becomes even more significant.”

According to GTC, not all LGBT travelers are the same – there are sub segments, defined by gender, region and age/life stage. “As with any other market segment, marketers must understand which sub segment they are targeting and specifically how to meet the experiential needs of these differing groups. Marketers planning on connecting with Canadian LGBT travelers must find specific, differentiated attributes of their product that promise enhanced experiences.”

TGC is Canada’s only LGBT tourism industry association. It is a membership based, not for profit association of tourism related businesses providing visibility and opportunities to its members for increased revenues and profitability in the LGBT market through research, training, product development and promotion. By promoting LGBT travel to and within Canada, Travel Gay Canada works to increase the number of visitors for its members and to develop a sustainable network of tourism products and services to meet the demands and expectations of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) travel market.

“For Canada to continue to increase its market share within the LGBT travel market, tourism businesses need to work together to develop and deliver the product and create greater awareness of Canada as a preferred destination,” TGC also said.

Why it is smart to go after gay Canadian travelers

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