Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Feb 29, 2016
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Canadian LGBT tourism is big business

Armando Mendonca

(Photo above: Celebrating pride in Amsterdam.)

[Canadian Travel Press is pleased to introduce new “Lifestyle & Diversity” columnist Armando Mendonça, who will write about the LGBT travel sector, including reports on destinations, events, accommodations, service, and trends.
His column will appear monthly.]

LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual & Trans-Gendered) tourism is comprised of product and services that reach a diverse global community that is generally untethered by the increasing cost of travel, and many of the associated challenges that impact the tourism industry.
Over the years, there have been many surveys, studies and focus groups by experts in the LGBT private sector analyzing travel trends, spend and economic impact. Travel Gay Canada, to cite one, conducted a national survey in 2014. Some of the findings included:
The LGBT travel market in Canada represents $8.6 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion (23%) since 2010;
Safety has always been one of the key factors when choosing a destination, but it’s no longer at the top of the list – if the destination is deemed unsafe, it’s not even considered;
LGBT infrastructure that offers product and services is now an important factor when choosing a destination;
LGBT are frequent jetsetters travelling primarily within Canada followed by the US, Mexico/Caribbean and Europe with an average yearly spend of approxi-mately $4,000;
82% of the sur-vey respondents book via hotel or brand web sites versus 63% who use OTAs.
It’s important to note that all the statistics gathered in the study vary and criteria such as average spend, age, trends, LGBT sexual identity, and other key factors differ among this diverse group and are a niche within niche. As such, to ensure success in this multi-niche market segment, it is imperative that the target audience is first identified.
To assist mainstream travel companies that are interested in reaching out to this market segment, there are various organizations and industry events that should be considered in the research and development stage.
They include:
IGLTA (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association): The leading member-based global organization dedicated to LGBT tourism, IGLTA was founded in 1983 by gay and lesbian travel agents and now operates in 80-plus countries. The association provides members the opportunity to customize their travel experience and share it with others through planning tools, trip ideas, events and travel deals from LGBT tourism-related businesses. IGLTA’s 33rd Annual Global Convention will take place April 14-16 in Cape Town, South Africa. (;
TGC (Travel Gay Canada): Canada’s national membership-based LGBT tourism industry association provides LGBT travellers with products and services that meet their needs and expectations and informs them of the unique and vast travel opportunities and experiences available within Canada.
The LGBT Tourism Conference ( will take place April 27-29 in Winnipeg. (
CGLCC (Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce): Established in 2003, the national non-profit industry association is committed to forming a broad-based coalition representative of the various interests of LGBT-owned businesses for the purpose of promoting economic growth and prosperity through public and private sector advocacy and engagement, and to advance the common business interests and opportunities of its members and stakeholders. (
WTM (World Travel Market) and ITB (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin): Both are leading global events for the travel industry to meet industry professionals providing opportunities to connect and negotiate. Visit the LGBT pavilion – home of various exhibitors offering product and services for the LGBT market. (;

(Armando Mendonça is a tourism entrepreneur, philanthropist supporting HIV/AIDS charities and LGBT travel expert. He can be reached at: [email protected].)