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Survey Shows LGBTQ+ Traveler Challenges

Booking.com’s recent survey highlights that many LGBTQ+ individuals fear discrimination during travel

By Linden M. Bayliss

Booking.com’s recent study shows that LGBTQ+ travelers are making additional considerations when deciding where to travel. || Photo by zphoto83, courtesy of Adobe

When choosing destinations and planning meetings and events that require people to hop on a plane, it’s important to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ attendees and consider the additional challenges they might face when traveling. A recent study by Netherlands-based digital travel company Booking.com shows people identifying as LGBTQ+ are often making quite a few additional considerations when deciding to leave their home state. The study was based on responses from 11,469 LGBTQ+ travelers from 27 countries and territories, including 1,000 respondents from the U.S. The survey was taken online in April and May this year.

The first key takeaway is that the perceived friendliness of a destination matters. Among all travelers surveyed, they noted the following:

  • 55% consider a destination’s local legislation regarding LGBTQ+ human, equality, and marriage rights an important factor.
  • 43% canceled a trip within the past year after seeing a destination being unsupportive of its LGBTQ+ residents.
  • 51% consider whether the destination is more or less accepting of LGBTQ+ people than their home.
  • 57% say they prefer to visit destinations where LGBTQ+ tourism is already well established.

Doing the extra research to ensure chosen host destinations have local governments and tourism organizations that are openly supportive of the LGBTQ+ community is one way planners might help these attendees feel safe and encourage them to attend events requiring travel.

The second prominent finding was that there is fear surrounding the potential for discrimination by people LGBTQ+ travelers might encounter during travel. Of those surveyed, they noted the following:

  • 31% have had a negative experience with a fellow flight passenger directly related to their identity.
  • 36% expressed apprehension at the idea of being seated next to a stranger in fear of their reaction or behavior towards them as an LGBTQ+ individual. This response was most common among those who are transgender (57%), intersex (48%), or non-binary (44%).
  • 55% expect some form of discriminatory behavior from their fellow travelers and 57% expect to experience it from locals at the destination.
  • 40% say they modify aspects of their appearance and behavior to avoid potential discrimination or unwanted attention, while 41% have created an alter-ego to navigate different environments when traveling.

Planning for groups to fly together as much as possible or allowing for attendees to bring a significant other or close friend along helps ensure they have an ally by their side to mitigate the navigation of uncomfortable situations alone.

Lastly, the survey revealed destinations that are open allies of the LGBTQ+ community are making a difference by doing so. 73% of respondents say increased inclusivity has made them feel more comfortable when traveling. When visiting destinations that are openly welcoming, respondents noted the following:

  • 83% of LGBTQ+ travelers feel comfortable when arriving to check in at their accommodation.
  • 80% feel comfortable when corresponding with hosts and airlines.
  • 82% feel comfortable when interacting with hospitality professionals at their destination such as tour guides, flight attendants, and taxi drivers.

“As a gay man, I unfortunately know first-hand the challenges that persist in many parts of the world, including sadly with travel alerts already being issued ahead of Pride events this year,” says Arjan Dijk, chief marketing officer and senior vice president at Booking.com, in a prepared statement. “Despite all this, I am incredibly inspired to see LGBTQ+ travelers resiliently embracing their lived experiences, both at home and during their trips. While real and tangible progress is being made, we must remain vigilant and do our part to make it truly easier for everyone to ‘travel proud.’”

booking.com

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