In a world where 64 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships, including 11 where the death penalty can be imposed, it’s really no surprise that our LGBTQ+ research tells us a story with two sides. For our most extensive LGBTQ+ travel research to date, we spoke with 11,555 LGBTQ+ travellers from 27 countries to build up a better understanding of their past travel experiences, their future plans and how we can support them.
We know how hard you work to offer great hospitality to all your guests. At the same time, it’s also really important to understand that treating everyone equally doesn’t always mean that everyone feels included. That’s why inclusivity training can help to highlight the unique challenges that LGBTQ+ travellers face, as well as suggest ways to overcome them and make travel easier.
It’s our ambition that as the Travel Proud programme continues to be more widely adopted, we’ll be able to transform LGBTQ+ travellers’ caution into confidence – together.
The risk of discrimination and violence dramatically impacts LGBTQ+ people’s travel plans
Whether LGBTQ+ travellers are cancelling trips (41% have done this in the past year after seeing that their destination isn’t LGBTQ+ friendly), or changing their appearance for the occasion (75% of transgender people have adjusted how they present themselves in terms of their clothing and make-up choices while travelling) – it’s safe to say, it’s all done in the interest of their safety.
80% said they felt they needed to think about their safety and wellbeing as an LGBTQ+ person when choosing a travel destination, shooting up from 64% last year. Meanwhile, 74% of transgender travellers reportedly face a disproportionately higher rate of discrimination and violence around the world.
Disappointingly, almost three quarters (71%) of respondents said their choice of destination was hugely impacted by controversy in the news around attitudes, discrimination and violence towards people who identify as LGBTQ+. Some major global events feel off-limits to them. Our results also showed that LGBTQ+ travellers from Australia (84%), Hong Kong (82%) and the US (79%) were the most cautious of all.
So, LGBTQ+ travellers are doing their homework
Our study revealed that 65% spend time researching brands before they travel to find out how they support LGBTQ+ people and 69% agreed that they are more likely to favour airlines and brands with inclusive policies. Similarly, 65% of travellers are more keen to favour attractions and activities that are specifically tailored to people identifying as LGBTQ+.
At check-in, it seems 40% receive general information about the local area, yet LGBTQ+ specific guidance is far less frequent (16%). Our research showed that over a third (34%) would like to receive information about the LGBTQ+ status of a location. For trans, genderfluid and genderqueer people, this rises to 51%. For instance, knowledge of the local laws, religious sensibilities and tips on where to go to be safe is important in giving these travellers peace of mind. Any actions you can take to make LGBTQ+ travellers feel more welcome are sure to have a significant positive impact.
“In a world of increasing contradictions and instability, it’s no surprise that the LGBTQ+ travellers of today are simultaneously more cautious and more confident. At Booking.com, we believe that everyone should be able to experience the world as themselves, always.
While visibility, understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people has come a long way in recent years, we can’t take that progress for granted. The travel industry should strive to be a beacon of inclusion, helping foster an environment where everyone can flourish and thrive, whether exploring closer to home or travelling to the other side of the world.” - Arjan Dijk, CMO and Senior Vice President at Booking.com
Positive trends are appearing and the joy of travel is prevailing
Optimistically, 78% said they actively enjoy the experience of booking trips and 82% have experienced positive interactions as part of their travels, specifically with places to stay.
This positivity can be seen with year-on-year improvements for many of our study’s questions. 42% of LGBTQ+ people have had friendly and informative correspondence with the accommodation ahead of arrival, increasing significantly from 25% in 2022. Likewise, 47% of travellers said they have had great first impressions on arrival such as welcome drinks and friendly staff. This is up from 31% in 2022. And better still – up from 62% in 2022 – now 71% feel that their experience of being LGBTQ+ actually makes them a more confident traveller.
Of course, as active advocates of allyship ourselves, these stats show us how far we’ve come in the travel industry, and despite some backwards steps across the globe, on the whole, progress is being made. This is evident with 78% feeling more comfortable travelling due to the increased inclusivity of the travel industry. And for genderfluid and genderqueer travellers, this increases to an impressive 87%.
We hope this time next year, we’ll be able to report another increase as many more partners like you sign up for the Proud Hospitality training and go on to earn a Travel Proud badge.
- Positive progress has been made – but there’s still a lot more we can do to help make LGBTQ+ travellers feel confident exploring our world
- Those who identify as transgender are the most cautious when it comes to travelling, with 74% reportedly facing much higher rates of discrimination and violence
- The demand for advice (34%) and experiences (65%) that are tailored to LGBTQ+ people’s interests is high – and it’s not currently being met
- More than 30,000 properties globally are now being recognised for their inclusive hospitality efforts with a Travel Proud badge on Booking.com