Tourism operators in rural areas are being encouraged to provide more LGBT- friendly travel experiences to capture the so-called pink dollar, after research revealed LGBT individuals not only travel more, but have a preference for rural travel.
The research comes as Orange prepares to host it's first ever LGBT-specific event, the Rainbow City Festival in May 2022.
The Australian first motivation study of LGBT travellers by a Charles Sturt University academic and colleagues shows that LGBT individuals take on average more trips than their heterosexual-cis-gendered counterparts, making them a significant market for the travel and tourism industry.
A preference for travel to rural towns, both in Australia and overseas, was shown across all sample categories, which included social butterflies, escapists, safety seekers, blurring binaries, and conformists.
The study suggests operators in these destinations need to develop experiences that allow LGBT individuals to socialise and have LGBT-specific experiences safely and inclusively away from home. Partnering with LGBT advocacy organisations, advertising in LGBT media and using LGBT symbols like the progress flag could help re-position these locations, it says.
Study co-author Dr Clifford Lewis, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at CSU's School of Business said the study will help develop travel products and services that support the unique needs of the LGBT community.
"Importantly, we found in this study that LGBT people want a diverse range of experiences when they travel," Dr Lewis said.
"And just because you are LGBT does not mean you want LGBT specific experiences. Travel plays a complex role helping to satisfy needs that you cannot satisfy at home. This can be about being around other LGBT people, it can be about feeling safe while expressing your sexuality or gender identity."
Orange 360 General Manager Caddie Marshall says she hopes Orange's upcoming Rainbow City Festival, scheduled for May 2022 after being postponed in 2020, will help highlight Orange's credentials as a LGBT destination and will benefit local businesses by targeting an untapped audience.
"While Orange has historically enjoyed a large LGBTIQ+ population, it has not, to date, held a specific event that reflects this," she said.
"Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Hay, and Broken Hill - for example - have held successful events for this demographic, and it's had enormous benefits for those communities and their economies."
"The Rainbow City Festival will demonstrate that Orange, too, can put its own unique spin on an LGBTIQ+ event, and highlight Orange as a diverse and interesting place to enjoy," she said.