Nepal, a country that’s been wracked by years of political instability, is desperately in need of tourism money. GLBT travelers and couples, all things being equal, tend to have relatively high amounts of disposable income, or so Nepal thinks. Therefore, the Nepal tourism board is launching a massive campaign to highlight the country as a gay travel destination. In addition to a very public campaign, they’re planning to host an international conference next winter specifically on the subject:
Nepal government has held a series of meetings with well-known international tour operators and non-profit organisations to promote Nepal as a potential destination for LGBTs… Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) officials hope that LGBT arrivals will give a boost to the number of visitors to the country as the government mulls new way to bring in a million foreign tourists in the Nepal Tourism Year 2011. “Some international companies want to work in tandem with the government and attract LGBTs.’
This is smart politics and smart finances. Politically, Nepal only codified gay rights three years ago. There’s no other way to dispel the stigma of bigotry than to welcome people you used to discriminate against. It also focuses the topic on what you want rather than, hypothetically, a bloody 10-year Maoist insurgency that’s become synonymous with your country. All of that sounds simplistic, and it is, but it’s a useful reminder when we’re dealing with risk-averse, brand-conscious tourism boards.
Financially the move is even more of a no-brainer. Unfortunately in many states and countries, gay couples still aren’t allowed to adopt. That translates into having extra money and even possibly extra time for travel. If you’re going to target a niche audience with leisure goods and services, you can do a lot worse.
There’s a reason why GLBT glossies still rake in ad revenue while the rest of the industry is nose-diving. Argentina figured this whole thing out years ago, and it was only a matter of time before other countries would catch on.