2010: Who makes the tourism experience in the 21st century? > Pride and prejudice
After the EnGAYgement. . .
Abstract - Gay honeymooning is a recently new concept in the tourism industry. This paper addresses the issues with gay tourism as well as heterosexual honeymooning, to get a feel for the trends in each. Primary research will then be carried out to identify the current trends in homosexual honeymooning to see if these differ from motives in gay tourism and trends in the honeymoon market.
Key words- Homosexual Honeymooning, Gay Tourism, Motives, Trends.
There is a common perception that gay men are frequent and intensive holidaymakers' (Hughes, 2006: 47). This is due to the majority (77%) obtaining professional and managerial positions, leading to a higher than average disposable income (Penaloza, 1996). The gay market, also referred to as the pink market has become rather attractive to the eye of marketers globally (Hughes & Deutsch, 2010). Mintel (2000) illustrated that 23% of the gay market take three or more holidays annually compared to the 11.3% of heterosexual adults. Furthermore, a quantifiable survey was conducted by the Community Marketing Inc (CMI) and from this; Roth (2001) was able to show that the US gay travel market represents US$54.1 billion, which equalled 10% of the US travel sector revenue (IGLTA, 1999), thus reinforcing the importance of the pink market and their role within the tourism industry.
From a previous survey conducted by Clift et al (2002) it was established by 300 LGBT respondents that the two main experiences on their holiday consisted of, feeling comfortable accounting for 96% of the respondents and rest and relaxation (95%). The idea of feeling comfortable on holiday for this niche segment of holidaymakers is key to their decision making process. The idea of discomfort, discrimination or even physical or verbal abuse is not how the gay market enjoys their holiday (Hughes, 2002). Therefore, in order for this comfort and acceptance on holiday, LGBT tourists generally stick to countries that are more understanding to their behaviour and mannerisms.
Many destinations have become popular by the gay market by the motivations of relaxation and comfort, in particular many costal destinations throughout Europe such as Mykonos, Ibiza, Gran Canaria and Torremolinos. In terms of long haul destinations, places which are renowned for gay events like Mardi Gras, Gay Prides and the Gay Games (Markwell & Waitt, 2009), have provided destinations like Sydney, New York, & San Francisco to appeal to the pink market by rejuvenating their typical product and catering also to gay people (Miles, 2000).
Traditionally, honeymoons are taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in seclusion. Stereotypical trends in honeymoon destinations consist of couples visiting exotic and romantic destinations. The importance of a honeymoon is a cultural 'necessary prelude to middle class married life' (D'Cruze, 2001: 382).
It was found through primary research that the main destinations to cater for heterosexual honeymooners were usually exotic destinations; places like the Maldives, Mauritius, and the Caribbean, all of which are notorious to discriminate against homosexuals.
Although honeymoon travel is not a well established topic within the literature of tourism, the minority which is published, solely focuses on straight couples. Yet, the importance of gay honeymooning within the tourism sector cannot be ignored since more than 274,000 gay people are expected to marry in the UK alone (Kumar, 2010), and the pink tourism honeymoon market is set to become worth up to 600 million pounds (US$ 1.3 billion) (Johnson, 2005).
Research showed 18 (33%) of the places providing opportunities for gay honeymoons were situated around the USA. This is because; the US is one of the infamous destinations to allow gay marriage as well as specialising in niche products for their market (Holcomb & Luongo, 1996).
One of the latest trends in the honeymoon market is to marry within Disneyworld. Since 2007, Disney announced that gay couples are now permitted to wed within the grounds along with heterosexual couples. The new package is now available as the Disney mission statement declares 'something for everyone' and before 2007, this wasn't the case for homosexuals. It enhances Disney's notorious role in the hyperreal i.e. turning dreams into reality (Baudrillard, 2005) and feeling comfortable and escaping the harsh conditions of the real (Hannigan, 1998), a key incentive in gay travel patterns (Hughes, 2002).
It was announced that the most common motives to visit a gay holiday destination were to feel comfortable and relax (Clift et al, 2002). From the research conducted, the same patterns emerge for gay honeymoon travel. However, the results from this study proved that honeymoon travel is taken at destinations which have legalised gay marriage accounting for 56% of the total.
On the other hand, gay newlyweds are subject to taking risks in their decisions. This is because some of the blogged entries regarding gay honeymooning were notorious to discriminative behaviour towards homosexuals. It also clarifies that the homosexual honeymooners want to have the real experience of a paradise honeymoon just like heterosexuals and therefore destinations like Mauritius and the Maldives become significant to those prone to taking that risk, to gain a sense of equality.
In conclusion, this paper demonstrates that destinations are becoming more aware to the increase in homosexuals and in a matter of years; many more destinations will accept gay marriage leading to a dramatic change in trends. LGBT newlyweds will simply carry on taking risks, visiting destinations which show prejudices against homosexuals, to gain the feeling of a 'real' honeymoon. This will then suggest that feeling comfortable, a key motive for gay travel (Clift et al, 2002) could be jeopardised in the long run.
Clift, S., Luongo, M., & Callister, C. (2002). Gay Tourism: Culture, Identity and Sex. London: Continuum.
Hughes, H. (2002). Gay Men's Holiday Destination Choice: A Case of Risk and Avoidance. International Journal of Tourism Research , 4 (4), 299-312
Hughes, H. (2006). Pink Tourism: Holidays of Gay Men and Lesbians. Oxford: Cabi Publishing.
The main reason commenting on this discussion paper is that I have had an interest in this niche tourism segment, too when writing my Dissertation. Sean, the paper was very nicely to read and you made a nice contribution to the conference in regard to the topic gay-tourism / gay honeymooning. You are highlighting many important facts about the gay-travel market even though literature is very rare on this topic. You even provided me with new information about gays and honeymooning. The way you were connecting gay-tourism with gay-honeymooning was structured and well done. You used all published data quite well and also dealt with the most important authors on this topic like Hughes, Clift et al, Holcomb and Luongo. It would be interesting to read your whole paper to get further insights.
As you said, in the tourism industry the gay community became very appealing and lucrative over the last decade. Although just a few is known about gays and travelling it is obvious that the destinations, motivations and experiences of homosexuals are slightly different to those of the heterosexuals. There has publications been made by different authors about this topic and one learns that the gay market 'is even more important to the travel industry than it ever was before, as it has a more resilient appetite for travel' (cited in Travel Weekly UK, 2009, p. 24) and as you mentioned Sean even in honeymooning.
You mentioned that "gay newlyweds are subject to taking risks in their decisions" and even take the bad with the good in regard to perception and discrimination when going on honeymoon. Gays possibly understood that instead of concealing they need to out themselves as being gay in public to obtain equality among heterosexuals. As Cruikshank is saying: 'group solidarity lets them risk being different from the majority' (1992, p. 3). After becoming more accepted in politics through legislated laws and also because of more open-minded and tolerant heterosexuals in most societies / countries it is therefore reasonable why gay men have never been so visible before like yet. Being gay is not a taboo topic anymore. On the contrary: it is a highly discussed topic even in tourism.
Therefore it is understandable why first of all it is considered to be a really profitable market (Holcomb and Luongo (1996) and Clift and Forrest (1999)) and 'one of the fastest growing niche markets in the international travel industry' (cited in Ivy, 2001, p. 338; Wiltshier and Cardow, 2001, p. 121-130). Gays not only like getting married but also like to go honeymooning to places where heterosexuals go to, too. They want to be treated the same as heterosexuals. In my opinion gays in the 21st century want to be seen as something normal whether in regard to travelling or in going on honeymoon. Holiday destinations should become aware of this target group as soon as possible by offering numerous different gay marriages and gay honeymoon offers and not excluding them from the market. They hopefully will recognize this market segment and as you said in your conclusion they will witness gay marriages and honeymoons as a positive "dramatic change in trends".
Travel Weekly UK (2009) WTM tunes into gay market. Travel Weekly UK, 14th August, p. 24.
Cruikshank, M. (1992) The Gay and Lesbian Liberation Movement. London: Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Inc.
Ivy, R. (2001) Geographical variation in alternative tourism and recreation establishments. Tourism Geographies, 3 (3), pp. 338-355.
Holcomb, B. and Luongo, M. (1996) Gay tourism in the United States. Annals of Tourism Research, 23 (3), pp. 711-713.
Clift, S. and Forrest , S. (1999) Gay men and tourism: destinations and holiday motivations. Tourism Management, 20, pp. 615-625.
Exploring uncharted pink territory...
I really enjoyed reading this summary of your paper Sean, not only did it feature a lot of similar concepts and arguments to my own work, i.e. the relevance/ strength of the 'Pink Pound', the prejudice that homosexual travelers can face while visiting certain destinations, and the motivation behind travel, but it also took these aspects when looking into the concept of the relatively untouched territory of 'The Gay Honeymooning Market'.
Your discussion paper begins with a detailed view into the scale of spending within the homosexual community, and more specifically, on holidays and tourism. - This bears extreme relevance when considering the nature of the remainder of your paper, especially when considering the level of expense that honeymoons can cost newly wed couples. I certainly agree that the high levels of disposable income, along with the willing of homosexual tourists to spend large amounts of money on trips abroad, make the homosexual honeymooning market potentially massively affluent, especially when considering the figure provided by Kumar suggesting that 274,000 gay people are expected to marry in the UK alone in 2010 (Kumar, 2010).
Your paper touches upon the motivations behind homosexual holiday taking, and it is clear from the example that you gave of the research conducted by Clift that the desire to feel comfortable, safe and relaxed was of up most importance with the respondents questioned (Clift, 2002). Research conducted by the same author 3 years prior to this study indicates how for the majority of respondents, 'the opportunity to have sex' was of up most importance to them (Clift, 1999). When taking both figures from these sets of research into account, it is clear to see that there is a clear desire for homosexual tourists to 'be themselves' whilst on holiday, and as Hughes suggests, there is reluctance from them to adapt their behavior in order to 'fit- in' and be accepted (Hughes, 2010). You clearly take this into account Sean when highlighting the prejudice that homosexual tourists can encounter from certain destinations, particularly from the stereotypical exotic destinations associated with honeymooning. Despite, as you clearly indicate, the number of destinations that have become associated with gay travel, and that now have an established gay scene within the homosexual community, as you point out, these are perhaps not places that one would associate with a romantic, honeymoon getaway.
By conducting secondary research, you provide real strength to the existing literature, particularly on the subject of motivation leading to destination choice within the homosexual community. Having conducted research into a similar subject area myself, I agree that the literature on homosexual holidaying is somewhat limited, and the literature available seem to be from a handful of authors, therefore conducting primary research yourself added real depth to the subject. Using Internet blogs was an excellent idea and provided some interesting results. I was interested to read about the determination of many homosexual travelers to visit places despite the prejudice they may receive in an attempt to experience a 'real paradise honeymoon'. This I found somewhat contradictory to Hughes aforementioned argument about the reluctance for homosexual tourists to adapt their behavior in order to be accepted (Hughes, 2010). - Do you feel like the desire to experience a stereotypical honeymoon surrounded by idyllic 'perfection' means that, perhaps, a honeymoon is an exception to this rule?
Overall I really enjoyed reading this Sean and am confident that the full paper would go into more depth. You took the topic of homosexuality and the moralistic, old fashioned or indeed ignorant attitudes towards it, and explored the relatively uncharted territory of homosexual honeymooning, and came up with some excellent points and arguments! Good stuff!
Clift, S., Luongo, M., & Callister, C. (2002). Gay Tourism: Culture, Identity and Sex. London: Continuum.
Clift, S & Forrest, S. (1999). Gay men and tourism: destinations and holiday motivations. Tourism Management. 20 (1), 615- 625.
Hughes, H & Deutsch, R. (2010). Holidays of older gay men: Age or sexual orientation as decisive factors? Tourism Management. 31 (1), 454- 463.
Pink takes over!