This year, expect to see an increase in travel after two years of recession and decreased travel- even among gay men who have historically been resilient travelers, increasing their spending on travel year after year through terrorist attacks and recessions. The Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 proved to be too big for even the budgets of the lucrative dual-income, no-kids set. They stopped travel. But their desire to travel hasn’t ebbed.
I expect to see the following trends in 2010 (and beyond).
A return to growth for the gay travel industry.
Already I’ve heard anecdotal evidence to support this with increases reported from such diverse destinations as Switzerland and Miami. The most recent travel expos I attended, The New York Times Travel Show in February and the LGBT Expo this month in New York both reported increased activity and interest among both vendors and attendees. This bodes well for this year’s travel numbers.
More cruise options.
Atlantis Events is offering more interesting itineraries including Mediterranean cruises with stops in Tel Aviv, Israel (after a 10-year absence from this country) and two predominantly Muslim countries (Istanbul, Turkey and Alexandria, Egypt). As I write this Atlantis is steaming along the coast of China from Shanghai to Hong Kong to Singapore in two back-to-back Asian cruises. Sweet is offering land vacations and group travel on a mainstream Hawaii cruise for lesbians and their friends. Their cruises include voluntourism opportunities so you can do good while vacationing.
The rise of lesbian travel.
Lesbians are finally starting to be recognized by mainstream travel suppliers as a potent force it their own right. Destinations like Philadelphia have lesbian-specific campaigns and more and more sponsors are recognizing the power of the distaff gay traveler to destination events like the Dinah, Provincetown for Women and Aqua Girl.
Gay family travel.
R Family Vacations is offering groups on cruises in Hawaii, Europe, and the Caribbean and land vacations at Club Meds for gay and lesbian families and their friends. R Family co-founder Gregg Kaminsky, a pioneer in gay family vacations, thinks the time has finally arrived for gay families. Besides his company, be on the watch for other companies and destinations to start marketing towards this group.
More destinations marketing to gay and lesbian travelers.
When I started in this industry in 1998, only a handful of destinations actively courted the gay and lesbian travel segment, including towns which already had a huge gay following, like Key West and Provincetown. Since then, at least 100 destinations around the globe have actively courted the gay travel segment, the latest being Atlantic City, NJ, jumping on the bandwagon in a big way.
Proliferation of options.
Besides an increase in destinations and cruise offerings, there are many more tour operators offering really interesting options for gay and lesbian travelers. Zoom Vacations offers a wide range of well-organized trips all over the world, as does Alyson Adventures, and luxury-travel oriented Steele Travel.