Southeast Asia looks to draw LGBT travelers

Asia’s tourism industry is working hard at attracting increasing numbers of gay and lesbian travelers with a variety of special promotions and packages, reported travel news website TTGAsia this past week.

According to the website, a rising number of Asian travel destinations are becoming increasingly popular with gays and lesbians. In the words of ITB Asia executive director, Nino Gruettke, "While Thailand and Bali are traditionally popular with the community, Cambodia, Vietnam and India are also emerging as hotspots" for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travelers.

Various players in the hospitality industry have also reported an increase in the number of LGBT travelers in the region, including Bali’s Le Jardin resort, Hotel Fort Canning (HFC) in Singapore and Furama Resort Danang.

To tap the LGBT market, major travel trade show organizers are setting up specific gay-themed booths. For instance, this year ITB Asia, which wrapped up October 19, started a Pink Corner for gay and leisure tourism suppliers. “The LGBT market is a highly attractive niche market, so we are using the Pink Corner as a test to find out more and listen to the needs of this market,” Gruettke told the website.

More hotels in Asia are also listing themselves as gay-friendly. One of them is Hotel Fort Canning (HFC) in Singapore, which officially markets itself as a gay-friendly property, sending out regular promotional email blasts, and using tie-ups with Worldhotels for additional gay-friendly promotions.

Meanwhile, other hotels in the region such as Furama Resort Danang are planning to launch special promotions and packages targeting the gay and lesbian market, as well as advertising in local magazines read by the LGBT community, according to its executive assistant manager Nguyen Duc Guynh.

LGBT vacations in Asia are still relatively new, given that homosexuality is still not generally well-accepted in Asian societies. In countries such as Singapore, homosexuality is still considered a crime, while in Hong Kong, there is no law protecting LGBT employees against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.