LGBT escape: Asia pushes pink tourism
THE REGION’s LGBT tourism is expected to grow by leaps and bounds as Asian exhibitors have flocked to ITB Berlin’s LGBT pavilion to raise awareness of LGBT-friendly destinations.
TTG Asia quoted Hotel Granvia Kyoto executive guest services/operations director Shiho Ikeuchi as saying, “We’re trying to promote the whole of Japan as an LGBT-friendly destination, not just Kyoto.”
“We have been participating in ITB Berlin for five years. Back then (Japan) only had four members in IGLTA (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association). We now have 32 Japan members – and the number is growing,” she added.
LGBT travel destinations are often large cities that feature a prominent LGBT infrastructure such as bars, businesses, restaurants, hotels nightlife, entertainment, media, and organizations.
It gives the opportunity for LGBT people to feel welcomed and respected, and to safely and securely socialize with their community.
According to Lonely Planet, the top LGBT-friendly destinations in the world are:
- San Francisco
- Sydney, Australia
- Brighton, England
- Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Berlin, Germany
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- New York City, US
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Bangkok, Thailand
But now, as more Asian countries are relaxing LGBT laws, the LGBT-specific tourism sector is seeing positive growth. In 2017, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to allow same-sex marriages. The landmark ruling cements its reputation as a beacon of liberalism.
The granting of marriage rights for same-sex couples has produced a whole new segment for tourism. Hotel Granvia Kyoto in Japan, for example, has registered a big increase in the number of LGBT guests since it introduced events, such as weddings.
Other events that have kicked off in Asian cities include gay pride parades and festivals, and community gatherings.
Ikeuchi shared that Hotel Granvia Kyoto has registered “a big increase” in the number of LGBT guests since it introduced events, such as weddings, catered to this niche segment.
Thailand’s Tourism Authority, which has been an active proponent of LGBT travel, has also begun to raise awareness for the “openness and diversity of the country”.
“I believe that the LGBT travel community knows of Thailand and have probably already traveled there before, but they may not know that we are an active supporter of the industry. Now they know how safe it is to travel to Thailand,” explained Chad Intrachooto, marketing executive, project and campaign (New York and Canada).