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Some Caribbean destinations are being encouraged to go after the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) market while others have been told they should first determine if it is among their top three priority niches before allocating funds for outreach programmes to this community.

David Paisley, the senior research director at Community Marketing and Insights, a California-based market research firm that specializes in outreach to the LGBT community and which works with tourism bureaus to reach out to that community, said that while gay and lesbian travel is lucrative, not all destinations are attracted to it.

“For some destinations the gay and lesbian market makes a lot of sense, for others it does not. I look at the Caribbean as a whole, I think some destinations probably should be going after the LGBT market, other destinations might need a sitter. Is this a sort of market that falls into your top three niches or not? That doesn’t mean you are an LGBT unfriendly place. It just means your budget is limited and you need to go after the low-hanging fruit, the customers are most easy to get,” noted Paisley, who said that over 100 tourism bureaus have outreach programmes to gay and lesbian travellers.

He will present on the subject at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Curacao next month as part of a panel entitled, Business Opportunities: Teach Me to Niche, which will also explore entertainment tourism and the millennial market.

“Gay and lesbian travel can be a real economic boom for some places and some destinations recognize that and are going after that market,” added Paisley.

He explained that this niche travels and spends more than their mainstream counterparts, particularly on hotels, restaurants and shopping. His presentation will focus on the numbers, as well as strategies that have worked for destinations that reach out to this market.

“What I want to emphasize is some of the statistics around the LGBT community and why it is a lucrative market, and try to get people to better understand why is it there are over 100 tourism bureaus that are actively outreaching to the LGBT community today,” Paisley said.

“I want to break some of the myths. Gays and lesbians are like everyone else out there; we are travelling to a place because we want to have comfort, we want to have fun, we want to have a good time, we want to get out of work and our regular lives. The basic motivations for why we travel are exactly the same as everyone else and I want to talk about some of the outreach strategies that have been successful for other destinations.”

The CTO State of the Industry Conference, the pre-eminent tourism gathering in the region, takes place October 21-23. It brings together tourism decision-makers, including ministers, commissioners and directors of tourism, hotel and airline executives, travel agents, students, the media and persons directly and indirectly involved in tourism. It is preceded by CTO business meetings, including meetings of the board of directors and the Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism.

This year’s conference, which has as its theme, Caribbean Tourism: Growth Through Innovation, will be held at the World Trade Center in Curaçao’s capital, Willemstad.

Courtesy: Caribbean 360