LGBT Travelers Show their Preference for Florida Tourism

23 December 2015 9:03pm

Florida's travel and tourism destinations had been a favorite among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) travelers for some time, even though State Laws sometimes are less LGBT friendly.

Visit Florida and local tourism agencies in the U.S. State are among the most progressive in the United States

At the recent Conference on LGBT Tourism & Hospitality in Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco based CMI Community Marketing presented some inside on the potential and requirements of the LGBT inbound tourism market to this Southern U.S. Sunshine State.

In a survey this is the percentage of those responding about the two most important criteria to use to determine if a destination is LGBT friendly.

-Established LGBT community/neighborhood, has a big LGBT population and LGBT visibility 24 percent
-Established LGBT businesses: bars, nightlife, lodging, entertainment, newspaper, bookstore, etc. 23 percent
-Laws & policies to protect the rights of LGBT people at state/city level (not including same-sex marriage) 18 percent
Outreach to LGBTs through LGBT themed advertising on LGBT media and mainstream media 16 percent
-A destination's reputation for being LGBT friendly and other LGBT people's positive experience 12 percent
-Acceptance, acknowledgement, tolerance, and welcoming attitudes from the city and local people 11 percent
-Safe, no hate crimes, harassment or violence against LGBT people 11 percent

Overall, the LGBT reputations of major Florida destinations are mixed. Key West is viewed very favorably. Miami and Fort Lauderdale are seen as LGBT-friendly by over half of participants. Orlando, and especially Tampa/St. Petersburg have a more neutral rating. No major Florida leisure destination is seen as LGBT-unfriendly.

Depending on the destination, as much as 37 percent of the participants were unsure if a city was LGBT-friendly. Overall, Florida’s average positive LGBT rating of the five destinations tested was 51 percent, compared to an average of 68 percent for the three California warm weather destinations tested.

When analyzed by identity and age, we begin to see the strengths and weaknesses of each destination among past 5 years of travel. Fort Lauderdale does best with older gay and bisexual men, but not as well with women.

In South Florida, Miami attracts the most Millennial LGBTs. Orlando has a more even demographic distribution. Key West does well with older LGBT men and women in more equal proportions. Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater and West Palm Beach/Boca Raton trend better with older LGBTs (55+)

When visitors were asked to rate a hypothetical Florida vacation, 65 percent gave a positive rating and 26 percent neutral. • Very few rated Florida negatively. • However, far more were likely to rate the potential experience as very good, over excellent. • Of concern, lesbian and bisexual women are far less likely to rate Florida positively. • Visitors living in Western states are least likely to rate Florida positively.

When asked what defined their recent “excellent” or “very good” trip to Florida, most comments centered on the weather, fun with family and friends, accommodations, beach and restaurants. Only 9 percent indicated anything specifically LGBT-related.

Visiting family and friends ranked as the top influencer. Beaches, climate and prior experience were also key influencers, along with attractions and theme parks. Beaches particularly influence those living in Canada, younger LGBTs and those living in Texas.

Theme Parks particularly influenced parents. When participants had to choose their top influencer to visit-- attractions and theme parks gained in importance and beaches decreased in importance.

Three out of four participants arrived to Florida by plane. Over half of those arriving by plane rented a car. 56 percent of those living in Southern states arrived by car.

Travel with companions is heavily influenced by gender and age. Women and older LGBTs are more likely to be in relationships at any given time; therefore, they are more likely to travel with partners. Similarly, women are more likely to travel with children, because they are more likely to have children under age 18 living at home.

While men are also more likely to travel with a partner, men’s rates of traveling alone or with friends are much higher. Of note, traveling to Florida with parents, is actually higher than traveling with children, influenced by the under-appreciated role LGBTs play as elder caretakers.

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