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Gay Travel Market Worth $17 Billion a Year

Independent studies estimate the gay market at large to be worth $514 billion dollars annually, with average household incomes estimated at $51,624 for gay men and $42,755 for lesbian women, verses a U.S. average of $36,500. By spending $17 billion dollars annually on travel, the gay community is proving to be extremely lucrative to the travel industry at large.

However, according to the IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association), the notion that gays and lesbians enjoy an income level higher than the norm is accurate, but the community's desirability to the travel and tourism industry does not hinge on that fact alone. What the travel industry has learned to appreciate about the gay community is its heavy saturation of "DINK's" (Dual Income, No Kids) households, which translates into more disposable income.

A large volume of disposable income paired with relative freedom to travel without dependents further lends credence to the statistical information gathered by the Gay and Lesbian Press. Simmons Market Research Bureau, Inc.'s independent survey for The Advocate (a National Gay and Lesbian magazine with a readership of 175,000) determined the following about gay travel trends:

Domestic Travel:

  • 92% took domestic trips during the last year, with the average number of trips taken for the year at 7.1

  • 72% took domestic flights during the last year, with the average number of flights taken for the year at 5.8

Foreign Travel:

  • 58% took foreign trips during the last three years, with the average number of trips taken for that period at 3.5

Hotel Stays:

  • 78% stayed at a non-gay hotel/motel/resort in the last year with the average nights stayed for the year at 16.2

Auto Rentals:

  • 57% rented a car in the last year with the average number of rentals for the year at 4.6

Frequent Flyers:

  • 51% are enrolled in a frequent flyer program.

Overlooked Opinions, an independent market research company, further recognized how flexible the gay market is to travel with studies which found that few gay and lesbian households have children (under 5%); thus creating more discretionary time and income to travel. Overlooked Opinions collected data that demonstrated gays are twice as likely to travel compared to the national average. Gays are 17 times more likely to go to Europe than the national average. With such numbers the gay market is being aggressively pursued by the mainstream travel industry.

Gay owned and operated travel companies have been courting the gay market for years. One such company, Toto Tours, has provided the market with exclusively gay, small group adventure travel packages to some of the most exotic destinations around the world. Toto's more than decade long phenomenal success can be attributed to a profound understanding of this powerful demographic.

"The gay community mirrors the world at large in that we live in every town across this great nation. Simply put, we want the same opportunities to share together the excitement of traveling to the most beautiful places in the world without harassment," said Dan Ware president of Toto Tours. "The travel industry, including both gay and straight owned companies, is quickly learning that gay and lesbian travelers want to be treated with care and respect in a gay friendly atmosphere. In return, companies can expect to attract a dynamic, highly educated and talented group of people who make extremely loyal customers." Many industry insiders consider Ware to be a visionary who will be running a first class travel operation for more decades to come.


International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA)
4331 North Federal Highway, Suite 304
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33308
(800) 448-8550

Overlooked Opinions Inc.
3162 North Broadway
Chicago, Illinois 60657
(773) 637-7243

The Advocate
6922 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90028
(213) 871-1225

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