Does Marketing a Beach Destination As ‘Gay’ Really Make the Homos Grab Their Speedos and Flock There?


All this time you thought you deserved “special” rights and “special” treatment under the law. No? Just regular rights? Okay, fine. But you did expect businesses to market to you in a special way because you’re LGBT, didn’t you? Got you there! Without Progressive making those gay-friendly commercials or Orbitz going after the man-on-man market, you never would’ve used either of those services, would you? Maybe it doesn’t make a difference.

Turns out marketing to at least one set of LGBT consumers — tourists — doesn’t make much a difference in actually getting queers to show up to your cute beach town with those adorable shops lining streets closed off to vehicle traffic. At least it didn’t for Prince Edward Island in Canada, which tried scoring with the homos by specifically marketing to them, but without much to show for it.

Marketing P.E.I. as a gay-friendly destination may not bring more gay tourists to the Island, a survey by UPEI’s Tourism Research Centre suggests.

The research centre surveyed close to 2,200 people last summer and fall, and about 105 those people said they were gay. The preliminary report says most of the gay tourists who came to P.E.I. had a good time and would recommend the Island as a destination, and a very small percentage did not.


Not that the local gays are too worried about the results.

Bill Kendrick, a board member of the Gay Tourism Association, does not see anything to be concerned about in the those numbers.

“I think if you did a survey of any tourists travelling anywhere, there would always be a small percentage that didn’t have as great an experience as they would have liked to have had,” said Kendrick.

But perhaps you’re not seeing an uptick in gay travelers because, well, we’re just like any other travelers?

Kendrick’s association and Tourism PEI were hoping the survey would help them figure out how to attract more gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people to the Island, but there were few findings suggesting specific ways to market to GLBT travellers. The survey showed they are interested in beautiful landscapes, good food, history and cultural attractions: the same things that attract other tourists to the Island.

Focusing on those aspects of P.E.I., the report says, would likely attract more GLBT tourists than explicitly branding the Island as gay-friendly.

Which is sound business advice, unless you care about scaring away the straights.

In fact, the survey found some operators could lose business if they market themselves as gay-friendly because it might make some straight people feel uncomfortable.

But we don’t need a survey to understand how the mind of a gay tourist works. Generally, we like pretty places, pretty people, and pretty alcoholic drinks, and we’re a go. Also, keep the heteros away from us, and we’ll tip better. And finally, don’t create shitty, ugly, nonfunctioning websites, through the word “gay” on them, and call ’em a gay travel site.



(Cartoon via SUTH)