Annual Gay Travel Data from Community Marketing

NEW YORK CITY is  #1, again, for the 16th year in a row, as the #1 Gay Destination.

San Francisco-based Community Marketing, Inc. just released their yearly data. And while some of the results will be less-than-shocking (gay New York City gets high scores, as does gay Miami and gay New Orleans), there are still a few surprises in the 40-page report.

 The 16th annual survey of its kind analyzes online responses from more than 6,700 U.S. residents and 540 Canadians, completed between September 20 and October 31, 2011.

Based on the survey and Department of Commerce tourism statistics, CMI estimates that gay and lesbian tourism generates more than $65 billion a year in the U.S. alone.

Here are  some of the more interesting findings of this year’s survey:

1. Economy be damned! Overall, the gay and lesbian community reported more trips in the past 12 months, while travel had been down in the past two years’ surveys. Both men and women took an average of more than three leisure trips in the past year.

2. Still, gay travelers like saving money, too. More LGBT travelers call themselves “economy/budget travelers” than “luxury travelers” (though the mid-range market is still the largest). And high percentages of gay men said that discount-laced LGBT hotel packages were motivating factors when choosing accommodations (not so much for lesbians).

3. Kids rule. Once gay globetrotters become parents, the importance of “family-friendly” trumps “gay-friendly” when planning getaways.

4. Anti-gay, stay away? Not always.  –  I found this one shocking actually.  Only about one third of gay men and lesbians avoid destinations with anti-gay laws, indicating that destination boycotts are not so effective (though corporate boycotts are, according to CMI focus groups). More of a deterrent to those surveyed are recent reports of gay bashings—though the two considerations are often intertwined.

5. Location matters. The most important hotel amenities for LGBT travelers are great location and free WiFi. When it comes to choosing one hotel over another, price and gay-friendly reputation are top priorities.

6. Warm weather is a motivator. The majority of respondents surveyed indicated that they are a “warm-weather traveler” rather than an “outdoor/active adventure traveler,” “luxury traveler” or “winter/ski traveler.”

7. Honeymoons are a factor. Of respondents who were legally married or partnered within the past 5 years (577 couples), 43% went on a honeymoon, with 50% traveling to warm-weather destinations.

 NYC still rules. And Miami’s back! Gay New York City has retained its position as the #1 leisure (as well as business/leisure combined) destination for all 16 years of CMI’s survey, and in fact this year saw a slight increase over the traditional #2 and #3 spots of gay San Francisco and gay Las Vegas, respectively.

Miami saw significant gains, and is back in the top 10 of USA destinations after being out of the combined leisure/business category since 2006. – I find that one interesting. Most of my friends agree that Miami is so over. The gay vibe has faded and straight people rule the city.

Also in the top 20: Ft. Lauderdale, Seattle, New Orleans, Napa and Provincetown. In Europe, the top destination is England; in Canada, it’s Montreal; in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta.