Embracing Diversity: How Destination Organizations Can Vibrantly Celebrate Pride

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<span>Embracing Diversity: How Destination Organizations Can Vibrantly Celebrate Pride</span>
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Annually, Pride Month celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and their contributions to society in pursuit of equal justice and opportunity for all. Destinations worldwide will host pride parades, concerts, and workshops highlighting the national and local impacts LGBTQ+ persons have had on their local communities.

Pride Month celebrations will take place around the globe this month with a multitude of events that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and their contributions to society. According to The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), “the global landscape for LGBTQ+ rights, protections and acceptance varies tremendously by location, with some destinations attracting millions of visitors to their events like Madrid Gay Pride, Sao Paulo Gay Pride or San Francisco Gay Pride, while more than 70 other countries have laws that allow discrimination or persecution of LGBTQ+ people.”  

IGLTA also notes that “in many countries, June is officially recognized as pride month even though some cities may hold their pride events on alternate dates.” 

It is an annual tradition that draws hundreds of participants on both the local and national levels, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots and promoting the concept of a more equal and just society for all. Festivities during Pride Month range from concerts, parades, workshops, retreats, block parties, walks, and galas aimed at embracing the contributions made by the LGBTQ+ community in creating a more inclusive and just society. For destination organizations looking to get in on the celebrations, there are several opportunities to be an ally to the community, not just during pride month but throughout the entire year.  

Recent research by Skift indicates that the LGBTQ+ travel market has grown exponentially in the past few years, representing more than 218 billion dollars in travel spent worldwide. In the US, it is estimated that the LGBTQ+ community spends 10 percent of its purchasing power on travel and will choose to visit destinations where they see themselves represented and feel welcomed. Additionally, during the planning stage, LGBTQ+ travelers are likely to consider whether a destination is welcome year-round as one of the factors in their decision-making process. It is estimated that 80% of this travel market chooses destinations that are openly LGBTQ+-inclusive, supportive of the queer community, highlight small businesses, and have travel brands that stand up for transgender rights. By 2030, it is estimated that the LGBTQ+ travel market is expected to reach $568 billion, as inclusivity remains a key factor in their decision to visit a destination. 

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Although many destination organizations have some engagement with the LGBTQ+ community, it is more important now than ever to be active and intentional when engaging with this critical segment of the travel market. In helping to amplify LGBTQ+ voices beyond Pride Month, destinations can support diverse communities in a variety of ways, including helping to elevate their voices, telling authentic stories, and creating marketing campaigns that celebrate inclusivity. As an example, Visit Lauderdale's Everyone Under the Sun campaign emphasizes the diversity of cultures, gender-inclusive communities, and the variety of experiences available to everyone. In this destination, diverse cultures representing more than 147 languages from 170 countries are celebrated no matter their background or whom they love. Further, research indicates that the LBGTQ + community is the fastest-growing minority segment in the U.S., representing 1.4 trillion dollars in spending power over the next decade.  

Amplify LGBTQ Community Voices 

During Pride, organizations can play a critical role in amplifying the voices of this growing travel market by highlighting several LGBTQ+-owned businesses, influencers, and nonprofits in each destination. From shop owners, artisans, social media influencers, and creatives, countless voices tell stories within each community. For example, a destination can feature LGBTQ+-owned entertainment venues, cafes and restaurants, and locally-owned bars on their website and encourage patronage not just during Pride Month but all year. On its website, Choose Chicago offers an extensive list of LGBTQ+-owned businesses for first-time visitors seeking interactive entertainment experiences and authentic connections. 

Regarding social media, destinations can partner with LGBTQ+-owned businesses in creating hashtags so that vendors can tag their content under one united campaign. Several platforms have released new ways to engage with the LGBTQ+ community including the encouragement of hashtags in various languages, campaigns telling authentic stories, and rainbow filters to enhance photos. Destinations can make an Instagram highlight that pulls together partners on social media providing a guide to locally-owned businesses and establishments. Additionally, Pride Month presents an opportunity to connect with LGBTQ+ travel influencers who are shaping the conversation on inclusivity and welcoming destinations. By partnering with these creators, organizations can share stories about how their destination supports LGBTQ+ travelers, residents, and local businesses year-round. 

Do This: Defining the DMO Role in Promoting LGBTQ Travel

Allyship Year Round

A recent wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has complicated the advancements made in the achievements of equal opportunity and justice in the past few decades. It is estimated that in 2024, there have been 515 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in the US with over 126 bills that are advancing in 38 state legislators.  Allyship is a critical component all year not just during pride to ensure these communities feel seen and heard. Destinations can be allies to the LGBTQ+ community by supporting nonprofits and organizations dedicated to equality. Beyond marketing campaigns, there are several worthy causes for destinations seeking to dedicate time and resources to reinvest in the local LGBTQ + community.  

The National Center for Transgender Equality, Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Transgender Law Center, GLAAD, Sage, and the Trevor Project are a few notable organizations that aim to foster the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth and adults. Destination organizations with limited budgets can provide allyship through companywide volunteer days and clothing drives where employees spend a day volunteering from a list of local businesses. One of the clothing drives, the DC LGBTQ Community Center, is a free community closet with a variety of community apparel available with a focus on health and wellness, arts and culture, and social and peer support. 

As an example of all year allyship, Florida is hosting the first statewide LGBTQ-focused tourism conference this August with Visit Tampa Bay, Visit Lauderdale, Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and, Visitor Bureau as sponsors of the event. The Florida Out Coast Convention aims to assist organizations, hotels, restaurants, tour operators, sales leaders, and attractions in transforming their destinations into a more welcoming and inclusive place fostering a sense of belonging. The conference is designed to help destination organizations gain a deeper understanding of the current challenges and needs around relevant LGBTQ+ topics. During the conference, destinations collaborate with their peers in learning best practices for attracting LGBTQ+ groups, positioning their communities as leaders in the LGBTQ+ tourism market, and staying informed on the latest legislation impacting the state of Florida, demonstrating their commitment to inclusive travel. 

Pride Month is a time of celebration of the diversity and contributions made by the LGBTQ+ community in destinations around the globe. There are several ways destinations can amplify the voices in each community through marketing campaigns, highlighting small businesses, connecting with industry partners, and partnering with local organizations. However, allyship of the LGBTQ+ community extends beyond Pride Month, with activations available for destinations to pursue as a strategy throughout the year. With conferences, support for non-profits, connections with influencers, sharing authentic stories, and fighting back against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, your organization can become a leader in the LGBTQ+ tourism market for years. Interested in learning more about Allyship? Visit our Social Inclusion hub and share how you are shaping inclusive and welcoming environments through our online community

About The Author

Stephanie Auslander

Advocacy and Data Coordinator
Destinations International

Stephanie is a recent graduate of Johnson & Wales University with a Master’s Degree in Global Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development. Previously, she worked as an Intern with Solimar International assisting Destination Marketing Organizations in formulating Tourism Development strategies for the Samtskhe–Javakheti region in Republic Of Georgia and the Sisian region of Armenia. Additionally, she is the author of a Tourism Research Proposal detailing ways in which Destinations can promote the concept of Sustainability to its consumers for a lasting positive impact. With a background in Tourism Development she is confident in her ability to help Destinations innovate into the future.

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