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LGBT Tourism: Positive and Powerful

L R Prof. Magda Antonioli and Ms. Jelinic image courtesy of M.Mascuillo

The Mayor of Milan City, Beppe Sala, opened a recent conference by underlining that this year Italy also remembers the thirtieth anniversary of the symbolic gesture with which on June 27, 1992, ten LGBT weddings were celebrated in Piazza Della Scala in Milano.

“We are talking about thirty years ago,” Sala recalled, when with a simple but important media gesture, a Milan citizen expressed the thought, “love must prevail.” Said the Mayor, “Obviously, I am also interested in the subject pragmatically – LGBT tourism is fundamental for a city like Milan.”

Around 400 delegates from as many companies in the tourism sector (including hotel chains, theme parks, airlines) from the 80 countries where the association is present are expected at the 38th IGLTA Annual Global Convention from October 26-28, 2022.

“Just think of the recent situation in Florida, where the hostile attitude towards the LGBT community made the reputation and attractiveness of that state take a step back. But above all it is important that today’s conference and next October’s World Congress put everyone in a position to understand and feel that love must prevail.

“Milan is the capital of rights and of the LGBT community. This city continues to live only if it does so with the spirit of openness,” concluded Mayor Sala.

The councilor for tourism of Milan City, Martina Riva, announced that the Municipality will promote events throughout the city to make the event live even outside the convention spaces, conceived only as a “business to business” meeting for professionals.

ENIT National Tourism Agency has put LGBTQ+ tourism at the center of its promotional policies around the world.

Giorgio Palmucci, ENIT

“There is growing attention to the LGBTQ tourism segment, and stakeholders are aiming to create a specific offer,” declared the ENIT president, Giorgio Palmucci. “On the other hand, Italy was a destination for LGBTQ+ tourism already at the end of the 19th century. Places such as Capri, Taormina, and Venice, where Mann set The Death in Venice, centered on the theme which owed much of their tourist success to the tolerance with which they welcomed travelers, as well as Naples, Rome, and Florence that we find described in the diaries of the many LGBTQ+ travelers of the time. For tourism companies, we are faced with the opportunity to get in touch with other entrepreneurial realities to exchange ideas, projects, and establish synergies and collaborations. This is why ENIT promotes LGBTQ+ tourism by joining specific initiatives – to give Italy an opportunity to expand and seasonally adjust tourism flows and enhance the country’s image as a welcoming nation with an eye to progress applied to tourism.”

Alesandra Priante UNWTO image courtesy of M.Masciiullo
Alesandra Priante, UNWTO – image courtesy of M.Masciullo

Alessandra Priante, UNWTO

The Director of the European Regional Commission of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Alessandra Priante, said: “At UNWTO we are pleased to see that communities in different regions of the world are increasingly welcoming towards travelers of all backgrounds and sexual identities. Tourism is poised to act as a catalyst for greater unity and inclusion for all. As Jason Collins, the first NBA player to publicly identify as gay, once said: ‘Openness may not allay prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.’”

“To exemplify the economic value for a city of this tourism segment, the data on participation in the 2017 Pride in Madrid witnessed 2 million people. We are talking about events that, in terms of numbers and the economy derived from it surpasses the Olympic games,” said Priante. Madrid Pride and Amsterdam’s Canal Parade have become so iconic that they now attract a much larger audience than originally targeted.

L R Mr. Virgili Mayor Sala Ms. Martina Riva image courtesy of M.Masciullo 1
L-R – Mr. Virgili, Mayor Sala, Ms. Martina Riva – image courtesy of M.Masciullo

Alessio Virgili, AITGL

The LGBT+ travel community spends more than the average – the AITGL Observatory study presented to the European States General, summarizing in one sentence. The data shows that 12% of travelers in Europe are LGBT+ and generate a turnover of 43 billion dollars, down from 75 billion in 2019, but less than other tourist segments in the period of the pandemic. The conference anticipates the 38th IGLTA Annual Global Convention of the sector, which should have taken place in Milan in 2020, to now take place in October 2022.

“The presence of 1.6 million LGBT tourists in Italy (out of 33 million arrivals) in July-September 2021 had a stay on average of 5 nights and spent 187 euros a day generating a turnover of 1.4 billion euros,” explained Alessio Virgili, President of AITGL.

The National Italian Board for LGBTQ+ Tourism is the organizer of the event under the high Patronage of the European Parliament, of Milan Municipality, Confindustria Federturismo, and IGLTA.

The Observatory study also shows that 18.9% of LGBT+ tourists’ annual income is below 18,000 euros, 32% between 18-35,000, 20.6% between 36-58,000, and 10.5 % between 59-85,000 euros.

The dream destination is Italy, which ranks sixth among the destinations that offer the best LGBT+ tourist experience, after Spain, Germany, Holland, France, and Great Britain.

The tourists interviewed indicate 3 fundamental aspects for choosing Italy: the destination level of LGBT-friendly (50%), the level of care and cleanliness (44.7%), and the ease of access to medical and health services (42%). This demonstrates how much the pandemic has influenced the choices of travelers.

LGBTQ+ tourism generates an impressive impact on the travel economy, beyond its value for inclusion and respect of diversities – these are the results of a focused research conducted by GFK Eurisko- Sondersandbeach revealing a €2.7 billion turnover in Italy and over €75 billion in Europe. The LGBTQ+ community is a trend setter and opinion leader with substantial budgets, long-term loyalty, propension to 3-4 long-haul leisure journeys and 2-3 weekends per year. They represent an opportunity for concrete deseasonalization for many destinations.

Looking forward to the IGLTA Annual Global Convention on LGBTQ+ Tourism in Milan (October 2022), the second time in Europe in 38 years, The General Estates intends to focus on the “state of the art of this market in Europe, considering the European Union policy on sustainable and inclusive tourism and comparing the policies adopted by Public Tourist Boards as sample of EU Nations policies, in Works and with the realization of a shared manifesto, to be submitted to the international convention of LGBTQ+ Tourism and addressing public/private institutions of EU countries,” concluded Alessio Virgili.

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