Challenges to the consolidation of LGBT tourism market

Events like MadBear attract over 3000 participants per night (Photo:MadBear)


By Mario Teixeira

More than a concept, or a series of letters, people who want quality services. So the consultant Ian Johnson, Out Now Consulting founder of two decades ago and recognized as the international authority on sector policy Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) defines the main problem for the consolidation of a tourism policy toward the fastest growing market today. Moving around U.S. $ 54 billion (approximately R $ 121 billion), with a compound annual growth rate of around 10%, this new market has changed some regions until then traditional, as the Brazilian Northeast and South Korea, who are presenting themselves as safe and exciting markets for this new market branch. Pernambuco, even, could host a major conference on the segment in 2016.

To discuss the challenges of this market are being scheduled three major events between October 2013 and May 2014, the United States and Europe. Although in the 21st century, situations like the project to "gay cure", discussed in the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil, the statements of the President of the Italian Barilla pasta, the world's leading sales, Guido Barilla, that would not accept homosexual propagandizing your brand, or even the statements of the President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, that homosexuality is one of the greatest global threats contribute to the industry linger to consolidate in various parts of the world. The Brazilian Association of Tourism for Gay, Lesbian and Sympathizers (AbratGLS), pointed internationally as the principal advisory group of GLBT market policies in the country, although invited to discuss the challenges to the consolidation of the market, has not commented.

The subject of prejudice is the basis for the  14th Conference on LGBT Tourism & Hospitality  in December in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States; ITB Berlin Travel Trade Show in March, in Germany, and the 31 th Annual Global Convention in Madrid in May in Spain, seeking alternatives to expanding the market safely and with quality. Training of manpower will also be discussed, since report of the United Nations (UN), 2012 (attached), makes clear that the criminalization of homophobia and advances in the conquest of same-sex couples can ensure a future better for the LGBT tourism market, with the definition of new products and expert services. Likewise, knowledge of the potential allows further study of tourist demand, audience definition and the need for service creation.

- At Out Now we prefer to use the data from Yankelovich Organization, headquartered in New York, that 6% of adults in America are gay. This is equivalent to 15 million people, while in Brazil this number would reach 8.9 million gays and lesbians. This group will leave in the global tourism market, estimated for 2013, about $ 181 billion (approximately R $ 434 billion at today's exchange). Who better develop your market and to train its workforce comes out ahead in winning this important segment - stressed Johnson, who made a study of the market in Brazil 2020 (attached).

Ian Johnson reinforces the idea that beyond being a market, you must remember that they are people (Photo: Ian Johnson)

Issues basis for all discussions are research and training. Out Now provides online training for destinations, tourist attractions and hotel staff in four languages through their LGBT tourism association network ONBC - Out Now Business Class and clients include Switzerland Tourism, Berlin Tourism, Gold Coast Tourism, Marriott Hotels in Mexico - and others in locations around the world. Johnson emphasizes that the destinations which decide to invest in this sector need to understand the future market and find out what the expectations of the public regarding to the region. Therefore, for the success of the enterprise, it is imperative to be made projects for the demand that will arise in order to ensure the continuous flow of tourists and the main free advertising done by the tourists on blogs and even in conversation with friends.

In the training, it is important to move away preconceived ideas about the LGBT population, stressing that although the vast majority of the audience is composed of young people with money to spend; voracious consumer of ballads and parties; connoisseur of art and culture; concerned with service quality, and able to travel at any time of year, there are very different sectors, with middle-aged couples and in search of peace and quiet, and beautiful places. For this, a beach on the Brazilian or an idyllic resort in the Caribbean or Asia have the same appeal. The difference is certainly the quality of service and the ability of the host community.

The Brazilian government has invested in stocks for the consolidation of the market in the country, since the Rio de Janeiro, for example, appears as the main destination for gays from Latin America, the United States and Europe. The Ministry of Tourism participates in the National Council for Combating Discrimination and Promoting LGBT Rights, and together with the Secretariat of Human Rights of the Presidency, prepared the National Plan to Promote LGBT Citizenship and Human Rights. Likewise, the project "Brazil, Destination Diversity", implemented in 2007 and initially held in Florianópolis, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, allowed the production of material for training in LGBT tourist service.

According to the Ministry, Brazil has many attractions for the LGBT segment, since it has an enormous amount of natural attractions, and festivals such as Carnival and parades, like the São Paulo Gay Parade,  the largest parade in the world. Acceptance of Brazil is high compared to other countries in Latin America, with a rich cultural life and a lifestyle of quality, which count as great motivators for tourism.

Public demand for quality of service and entertainment options, tourism, culture and art (Photo: Out Now)

In the case of Rio de Janeiro, which has been identified as the city's "gay friendly" of Brazil, several actions are contributing to give increased visibility to the market. The launch of the label "Rio Without Prejudice" in 2011, which is posted at establishments that are trained by the Special Coordinator for Sexual Diversity with notions and knowledge about laws of civil and human rights, has helped to increase the flow of tourists in the city. According to data from Riotur, the 2 million tourists who come to the city every year, about 500,000 are LGBT. And the trend is that these numbers come in a geometric progression, attracting more tourists, generating more job opportunities and providing more resources for the city.

Viewed as a special public with daily expenses exceeding $ 200, has created a search for training in specific areas of Services, Hospitality and Gastronomy. Riotur already noticed increased demand for specific training, providing professional special materials for this training process. Today, according to analysts, it is necessary to expand the borders of these actions, identified as just meant for the neighborhoods of the Touristic Zone, however, admit, has taken the first step towards the consolidation of a policy of quality LGBT tourist attraction, with attendance professional and sharing with tourists the lifestyle and common joy to Brazil.

For Johnson, the country is changing and issues such as homophobia and lack of professional qualification of workers are still common. The important thing, he said, is that the visibility of a new market segment is already patent. One has to take into consideration that these issues may not be comfortable for some groups, but to show that this is a growing market and deeply interested in building better opportunities is extremely important.

- What happens in Brazil today is the same as what happens in the rest of the world. Give visibility to basic questions such as homophobia, harassment, violence and societal discrimination against LGBT is important. I'm sure this will decrease over time. I and my team of Out Now're happy to help boost the positive benefits of this social change - said the founder of Out Now

New gay couples are investing heavily in tourism market (Photo: Out Now)

Change he reiterated, are slow in most countries and can give the impression that they do not exist. Still far the day that hotels, airlines or even destinations focus a campaign exclusively for the LGBT segment. In contrast, the market knows these limitations and expects only a pleasant and hospitable and warm treatment.

Even though Brazil has a large capacity events to mobilize the tourism sector, such as Carnival and Parade LGBT, this new market require major specific festivals such as XXL London, September 28, in England, the Bear Bust, 17-20 October in Orlando in the United States, and the MadBear, 4-9 December in Madrid, Spain, capable of attracting for a week over 8000 people at events in clubs or outdoors, both attacking health issues and behavior, as with performances by singers and DJs. We have the lack of community initiatives for major events, they can count or not with financial and logistics tourism authorities, tends to change over time. The strengthening of these communities, based on research with its public, can help diversify the market and add more options for the LGBT segment.

MADBEAR is a benchmark in Europe

For the organizers of the event that is synonymous with fun LGBT in Spain, MadBear, the Spanish Javier Vergara and the Brazilian Bira Souza, it is important to note that the country is now the premier destination for sun and beach in Europe, with places like Sitges, Ibiza , Gran Canaria, Benidorm and Torremolinos, and today begins to record the growth of urban tourism, focusing on cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia, among others. Organize events with over 3000 participants per night for a week, it is becoming common for the couple, who have observed the growth of the participants, pointing out how reason the quality of attractions and cordial atmosphere of the meeting.

EU ANDO PELO MUNDO - What is the main challenge to build and succeed in the LGBT market?

Javier Vergara/Bira Souza - The challenge for establishments gay or "gay friendly" is to gather the characteristics and conditions necessary for the collective LGBT feel comfortable, as appropriate care and attention to customer details. The increasing demand for products and services of this tourism sector requires specialized government and private organizations have more attention and invest more.

Today proliferate companies targeting the tourism sector, as well as clubs and bars, rental houses and apartments, among others. There is also a demand for the LGBT services like salon, spa, clinic, insurance, entertainment, catering companies and even go-karts.

EU ANDO PELO MUNDO - Although Brazil has the world's largest gay parade in Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro was chosen as the main gay destination in the Southern Hemisphere, there are no major events like MadBear. Why do you think this kind of movement does not exist here?

Javier Vergara/Bira Souza - Brazil has everything to be one of the top destinations worldwide LGBT segment for his apparent friendliness and openness of the Brazilian people. But there is still a long way to go, because social norms still present barriers to diversity. Brazil has everything that LGBT tourism sector may want and, in particular, the Rio de Janeiro offers excellent facilities, days and nights filled with culture, sports, leisure, nature, joy and climate.

The Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals was created on January 31, 1995, with 31 founding groups and today has a network of more than 220 associations, the most important in Latin America. Explain this and to show the strength importance of movement in Brazil. However, most of these associations whose main job defending gay rights and collective advice. There is no association dedicated to entertainment, fun, great parties and etc for different markets in the segment.

I recognize the importance of this movement to prioritize demands and standardization of Homosexuals Rights, ending with social barriers, rather than leisure events. I'm afraid that may have been left by a second stage also a doubt that organizations have for participation of undertakings in these events. I believe that Brazil has advanced a lot in winning rights and now maybe it's time to broaden the focus of action and initiate a process of conquest with large themed events focused on the LGBT market, but facing the entire population.

EU ANDO PELO MUNDO - Each year events like MadBear Madrid and Torremolinos gain more supporters. What is the annual growth rate of this event?

Javier Vergara/Bira Souza - The first event in 2001 was attended by 200 participants. Today, in its 13th year, is expected to 3000 participants per night, indicating an increase of 1,500%. Our proposal is to associate more and more clubs and bars, with their parallel businesses to grow and allow everyone to add more participants each year.


BR-Public-Report-Out Now.pdf (5,4 MB)
unwto_globalreportlgbttourism_lw_eng.pdf (3,2 MB)


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