2024 Conference
All Conferences
TSVC | Tourism Students Virtual Conference

Gay Tourism- Is There A Need For A Niche Product?

Gay Tourism- Is There A Need For A Niche Product?
Author: Jenna Arkinstall
3 Commentries
This paper concentrates on the factors of gay tourism and whether there is a need for a niche product for this type of tourist. This will be discovered by looking at several aspects within gay tourism including the pink pound, what it is, what it is worth and what it is worth to the tourism industry; and looking at gay tourism by discovering the history of gay tourism and the changes that have occurred within the last twenty years leading in to the current situation of gay tourism.

It has been stated that the pink pound is the expression used to define the spending power of the LGBT community, BBC News (1998).
It can be said, as mentioned by Southall (2009), that LGBT individuals generally have a higher income than heterosexual individuals. This suggests that there is the possibility of a higher disposable income for those within the LGBT community. According to Clear Channel UK (2007), an estimate of three million gays and lesbians live within the UK. In 2008, Mintel stated that the disposable income of a gay individual was largely spent on holidays. LGBT holidays in 2005 were worth £3 billion.
There is very little information about the history of gay tourism, however it as been discovered by Lück (2006) that before the 1990's, companies were afraid to provide a niche product such as gay holidays due to the potential threat of individuals discriminating the company for providing such products.

It has also been made clear that gay tourism was once mainly associated with parades and events rather than holidays abroad (Explorer Travel Blog 2010).
It has been discovered by Explorer Travel Blog (2010) that recent statistics show gay tourism is expanding. It has also been stated by Go With The Breeze (2009) that even though the market is expanding, it has not yet reached its full potential.
Hughes (2006) stated that if a company provides and advertises within this niche market, the company are likely to receive more custom from the LGBT community. Many companies are now providing a niche product for LGBT travellers, including Thomson and GALTA.
Support the Pink Pound (2010) discovered that "LGBT people in the UK… would prefer to place their business with LGBT companies as long as they provide a great service". However, Diva (2010) discovered that 70% of individuals questioned did not have an interest in whether accommodation was run by gay individuals, as long as they are welcoming.

It is a well known fact that there are many countries that do not accept LGBT individuals. With more than 75 countries finding being gay illegal, LGBT travellers need to be aware of these countries and the acceptances of other countries so they are able to avoid inconveniences. This is one valid reason as to why there should be a niche product as the company will be aware of these countries and will be able to provide the customer with holidays in a gay accepted area.

Hughes (2006) makes clear that some LGBT individuals may experience problems with the local community whilst on holiday which will cause discomfort and dissatisfaction. In order to prevent this, the individual could use a specialised company that are aware of areas that are less likely discriminate. Also, the individual may want to go to a gay only resort, therefore a specialised company can provide them with different holidays to meet their needs. On the other hand, using a specialised company can be more expensive than a non specialised company.

Picard and Robinson (2006, p241) mentions that travelling decisions made by the LGBT community can be made depending on "gay space". According to Hughes (2006), gay space is the term used to define an area of which is potentially a gay scene. A study by Mintel (2006) discovered that a large amount of LGBT tourists look to escape the gay scene when going on holiday, therefore the individual may prefer to use a non specialised company. On the other hand, an individual may want to go on a specialised holiday to experience the gay scene. Such places that offer gay space may include Manchester, UK, home of the British Gay Pride; London, UK; Berlin, Germany; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and many other areas across the world.

Overall, it has been discovered that there are many good arguments towards and against a niche product for the LGBT community, however the arguments towards the niche product are stronger than those against. Therefore it has been discovered that there is a need for a niche product.

BBC News (1998) Business: The Economy, The Pink Pound. [online]. [accessed on: 22nd April 2010]. Available via: <http://news.bbc.co.uk/>.

Clear Channel UK (2007) Harnessing the Pink Pound. [online]. [accessed on: 27th March 2010] Available at:

Explorer Travel Blog (2010) Gay Tourism- Why It Keeps On Growing. [online]. [accessed on: 22nd April 2010]. Available at: <www.explorertravelblog.co.uk>.
Hughes, H. L. (2006) Pink Tourism: Holidays of Gay Men and Lesbians. Wallingford: CABI.

Management Today (2008) The Pink Pound is Worth £81bn. [online]. [Accesed on: 13th April 2010] Available at:
Go With The Breeze (2009) Gay Tourism Is On The Rise (and Profitably). [online]. [accessed on: 22nd April 2010]. Available via: <www.gowiththebreeze.com>.

Picard, D., and Robinson, M. (2006) Festivals, Tourism and Social Change: Remaking Worlds. Canada: Channel View Publications.
Gay Tourism: Something to think about
Author: Sean Gorrod
This paper focuses primarily on the niche market opportunities for gay and lesbian holidaymakers. I have chosen to comment on this paper due to the fact that mine was on a similar topic.

Before reading this discussion I was drawn to your references. Although you have presented a wide range of sources regarding this topic, you state how there is little information regarding the history of gay tourism. I have to state that this is not the case. In Part 1 of Gay Tourism: Culture, Identity and Sex by Clift et al, 2002 there is a whole chapter relating to the history of gay tourism and how it started.

However, it is great to see that you recognised how gay and lesbian travel was associated with gay prides and festivals, more information regarding this can be found in Markwell & Waitt (2009) as they explore events like the prides, Mardi gras and also the Gay Games.

Jenna, I like the way you address the issue of the need for the niche market in tourism by identifying the issues of discrimination against homosexuals around the world. You mention that 75 countries made homosexuality illegal and in order to work around this, gay and lesbians should use intermediaries like niche market agents to book a holiday to a destination, avoiding the agony of discrimination. Although this is true, it was discovered through my primary research when reviewing the likes of gay honeymooning that Yes; although gays like to feel comfortable and accepted on holiday (Hughes, 2006) the gay honeymooners seek for a different product than that of their normal holiday. Destinations like the Caribbean, Mauritius, Maldives & Nepal, all of which are known for the prejudices against homosexuality were seen as popular destination choices. This resulted into a new dispute and the idea that gay honeymooners like to take risks on their honeymoon to gain the equality of heterosexuals on their honeymoon, rather than visiting the typical gay resort, which to them could be tacky. Therefore, this should be taken into account too.
Personally, it was great to see you found the study by Mintel of use too, and again you focus on the typical trends in the gay market.

In relation to Henrietta's comment, there is indeed a difference between gay and lesbian tourism trends and the niche market should cater for both in a different approach perhaps, since demands for gay holidays were focused on sex (Hughes 2002), was this different for lesbians? There was little evidence of this in your study.

In order to avoid limitations to this study, it would have been interesting if you carried out primary research and see if in fact, the literature you use is accurate. On the other hand, this paper was an interesting read; you did in fact find additional information which I didn't, so I applaud you for that.

Finally, it would be interesting to read your original conference paper and see if the issues raised in my commentary are present.


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.

Markwell, K., & Waitt, G. (2009). Festivals, Space and Sexuality: Gay Pride in Australia. Tourism Geographies , 11 (2), 143-168.

Mintel. (2000). The Gay Holiday Market. Market Intelligence Report UK, London: Mintel Publishers.

A niche product…A real thinking point….
Author: Simon Brooks
The title of this paper caught my attention due to the potential similarities that it could hold with my own paper, which looked into how despite the economic significance of 'The Pink Pound', gay tourists are still largely restricted on holiday destination choice based on prejudice that they may face.

The figures and literature provided on the significance and prominence of 'The Pink Pound' in this paper are from a good variety of reliable sources and not only support the information that I found for my research, but also take it a step further. Starting the paper with a paragraph emphasising the power of 'The Pink Pound' meant that the principle argument on whether or not there is a need for an individual/ niche product within the homosexual holiday market, was well backed up and supported with figures from the outset.

The discussion paper touches upon the prejudice that homosexual travelers face from certain holiday destinations, particularly from Muslim countries. I was aware of the hostility that gay people face from certain countries, but was surprised at the figure provided suggesting that 75 countries in total find homosexuality illegal, and would certainly be interested to find out where this figure came from. This ill - feel towards homosexuals would certainly suggest that a using a niche/ specialist homosexual intermediary is a good idea, ensuring that homosexuals don't visit places where they may face prejudice, however, do you not find that this greatly restricts the holiday destination choice for gay tourists? Perhaps some homosexuals may see this as segregation and might see this as a step backwards in attempts to be accepted and be treated as equal in modern living?

Given the elaborate spending habits of the homosexual community, particularly, as you emphasise, within the tourism and holidaying market, it is clear that the potential for a specialist/ niche homosexual product/ service would be a lucrative one. The paper states that a large amount of homosexual holidaymakers look to escape the 'gay scene' when holidaying, however, despite not doubting that this may be the case, research conducted by Clift suggests that the 'opportunity to have sex' is of great importance to 64.6% homosexual travelers (Clift, 1999). - This therefore suggests that the introduction of a specialist/ holidaying market for the homosexual traveler would be a popular decision. The only potentially negative argument regarding the introduction and the use of a specialist homosexual holiday provider is as the paper outlines, the increase in costs when compared with regular holiday providers.

The structure of this discussion paper is well laid out and the author evokes thought from the reader by providing both positive and negative arguments regarding the justification/ need of a niche product within the homosexual holiday market. I have no doubt that the full paper would take these arguments further and increase on an already significant use of secondary research. This was a really interesting subject choice, and fits perfectly within the 'Pride and Prejudice' strand.

Clift, S & Forrest, S. (1999). Gay men and tourism: destinations and holiday motivations. Tourism Management. 20 (1), 615- 625.

How to create a niche product for a heterogenous group?
Author: Henrietta Helin
The paper was equivalent to the title and covered important issues relating to the market segmentation of LGBT community, and dealt with many important issues that relate to the topic. The structure of the paper is good and it is easy to read, however, the paper is lacking the key words. You have presented great arguments towards and against the niche product but what I would consider a bit more are the differences between LGBT community which is not homogenous, which is what I personally concentrated quite a bit on in my paper.

You state in your discussion paper that LGBT individuals generally have higher income than heterosexuals. I found that several authors stated that this is how the case is generally seen but reminded that this is certainly not always the case because not all gays have high income and it excludes the ones who do not. Some of the literature stated that in some cases gays might have higher income and spend more money than heterosexuals because they do not necessarily have children and thus, have better opportunities to progress in their career. Some literature also states that lesbians do not spend as much money as gay men which I think is interesting when trying to decide whether a niche product for the LGBT community should be created. I think that these issues also affect the creation of niche product for the LGBT community.

These and other issues, such as the differences between lesbians and gay men should be taken under consideration when starting to create a niche product. As the gay community is heterogenous and each induvidual have different interests and desires, I would claim that it is hard to create them a specialised product.

You noted that if a company provides and advertises within this niche market, the company is likely to receive more custom from the LGBT community. I found another journal which assists this statement and claims that also heterosexuals can be affected by gay-friendliness. "A survey by the GL Census Partners showed that nearly half of its respondents agreed that when deciding whether or not to buy a product or service, they try to find out whether or not the company is gay-friendly. More than 8 out of 10 respondents to the GL Census 2001 Survey agreed that they were more likely to buy products from companies they knew were gay-friendly ... The survey shows that gay-friendliness is positively and significantly related to attitude toward the brand to both heterosexuals and homosexuals. For gay and lesbian consumers, though, the effect size is stronger than in the heterosexual group. The responses show a positive, significant relationship between gay-friendly positioning and brand satisfaction in both sexual orientations." (Tuten, 2005) These findings show that identifying itself as a gay-friendly organisation, might bring many positive impacts to the organisation, not only from the LGBT community but from the majority of the population as well.

Tuten, T., 2005. The Effect of Gay-Friendly and Non-Gay-Friendly Cues on Brand Attitudes: A Comparison of Heterosexual and Gay/Lesbian Reactions. Journal of Marketing Management, 21 (3), pp. 441-461.