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The gay travel market — and where the friendly destinations are

When going on vacation, an important consideration for gay folks is whether the destination is a welcoming and hospitable one. A new poll released by Harris Interactive, Travel Industry Association, and Witeck-Combs Communications discovered the following:

* Nearly half of all gay men (48%) and lesbians (47%) surveyed in the U.S. say that a destination’s gay-friendliness is important to them when making leisure travel choices.

* Over one-quarter of gay men (27%) and lesbians (28%) say gay-friendliness is “extremely” or “very important” as a consideration in travel planning.

* The measure of a welcoming travel destination by 53% of gay men and 69% of lesbians was “where they can hold their partner’s hand in public.” Another top factor was whether a location “is known to be culturally welcoming and to support diversity and GLBT civil rights.”

OK, I know the suspense is killing you — which destinations made the top cut? Many will not surprise you.

In the U.S. the number one destination for gays and lesbians is San Francisco, CA (76%), Key West, FL (57%), New York, NY (51%), Fire Island, NY (48%), Provincetown, MA (46%), Los Angeles, CA (38%), Miami/South Beach, FL (37%), Las Vegas, NV (35%), New Orleans, LA (34%), Palm Springs/Palm Desert, CA (33%), Boston, MA (29%), Chicago, IL (29%), Fort Lauderdale/Wilton Manors, FL (29%), San Diego, CA (29%), Seattle/Bellevue, WA (27%), Washington, DC (23%), Honolulu, HI (22%), Palm Beach/West Palm/Boca Raton, FL (20%), Portland, OR (18%), Philadelphia, PA (17%), and Providence, RI (6%) and Rehoboth Beach, DE (17%) tied for twenty-first.

And in the Great White North…

The top 10 gay-friendly Canadian destinations named by the U.S. respondents in the survey include: Montreal, QC (44%), Toronto, ON (39%), Vancouver, BC (38%), Quebec City, QB (20%), Victoria, BC (16%), Niagara Falls, ON (15%), Ottawa, ON (12%), Calgary, AB (9%), Halifax, NS (6%) and Prince Edward Island (6%).

And as far as who’s spending how much when we’re out of town, it’s no surprise that the boys are spending more than hets or lesbians.

On their most recent trip, traveling alone, gay men on average reported that they spent nearly a third more on their total trip expenses ($800 on average) than did heterosexuals traveling alone ($540 on average). When gay men reported their last trip traveling as a group, the average spending of their entire party was $3,070, which was more than reported by heterosexual groups ($2,870) or lesbians traveling together ($2,740).

The details:

The survey was conducted among 2,020 self-identified U.S. GLBT adult travelers (ages 21 and older) who have taken at least one leisure trip within the past 12 months. In addition, another 1,010 U.S. heterosexual adult travelers (ages 21 and older) were surveyed. Both populations were drawn from the Harris Interactive multimillion member panel of online respondents.

The full report is here.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding