11 Feb 2016

Should travel firms warn LGBT customers of intolerence before they book?

Travel operators are hiring LGBT experts to advise homosexual travellers, charity stonewall says that more should be doing so

This month saw New Zealand travel agency recruit 10 LGBT holiday experts after a steady rise in bookings by same-sex couples over the last few years. With the legalisation of same-sex marriage in parts of Europe and USA, same-sex honeymoon bookings have increased by 279% over the last five years globally.

Kuoni said their 10-person team was put in place because more of its customers see tolerance levels and cultural attitudes as a "key factor" in choosing a destination.

Mark Duguid of Kuoni said: "There is a difference between exploring a sought-after destination where some discretion is required and a progressive destination where LGBT travellers are truly welcome.

"Increasingly parts of the world are embracing LGBT rights so the situation is evolving.

"Legislation on LGBT rights is a good indicator, but local customs are a key factor as general society does not always keep pace with lawmakers. This is where our travel expertise can really help make a difference."

This is a trend that the LGBT advocacy group Stonewall hope continues. The charity believes that travel firms should take more responsibility to tell LGBT couples if a destination is safe.

“We are really pleased to see travel companies like Kuoni take clear steps to recognise and act upon the needs of their diverse customer base,” said Vicky Constance of Stonewall.

“LGBT customers have an equal right to travel safely and enjoy their holiday, and we would welcome further action from the travel industry to take more responsibility in communicating these key messages to their staff and customers.”

The travel guide book company Lonely Planet list the most LGBT friendly tourist destinations as: Copenhagen, Denmark; New Zealand; Toronto, Canada; Palm Springs, USA; Sitges, Spain; Berlin, Germany; Mykonos, Greece; New York City, USA; Reykjavik; Iceland; Montevideo, Uruguay.

Sad to see that no destinations in Asia made the list. Where do you think is the top LGBT travel hotspot in the region?