Gay and lesbian travelers cruise far more frequently than heterosexuals, three times per year compared to once every three years for mainstream cruisers. 20 percent of gays and lesbians took a cruise vacation in the last 12 months, according to a soon-to-be-released research study by Community Marketing, Inc. (CMI) of more than 7,500 qualified responses to an International online survey. By comparison, only 17 percent of Cruise Lines International Association's US Target Market (heterosexual) took a cruise in the last three years, and only

16 percent of Americans have ever taken a cruise in their lifetime.

The survey also shows that:

  • 65 percent of gays and lesbians who took a cruise vacation in the last year have traveled on a mainstream (non-gay) cruise. In addition, 42 percent took an all-gay "charter" cruise, and 15 percent were part of an organized gay group of travelers on straight cruises.
  • 28 percent of gays and lesbians who took a cruise vacation in the last year took more than one cruise
  • Median age of the gay cruise traveler is 47 years old, with a household income of $120,000

"This data shows there is huge sales opportunity for cruise lines and travel agents to sell cabins on straight cruises to gay travelers," said Tom Roth, president and founder of CMI. "However, there is a challenge implied in the data. It's not just about advertising. In order to gain market share among the lucrative gay market, cruise lines must take active steps to ensure that their product is genuinely gay-friendly."

More than three-quarters of those surveyed said that the itinerary influenced their decision to take a cruise (77 percent). Other factors in choosing a cruise vacation were:

  • Price (56 percent)
  • Overall reputation of the cruise company (50 percent)
  • Gay-friendly reputation of the cruise company (45 percent)
  • Safety record (15 percent)

These preliminary findings are derived from Community Marketing's 11th Annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Profile, set to be released in late September.

This comprehensive tourism research report is based on a sample size of more than 7,500 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender respondents. The 11th Annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Profile will include: information on travel spending by gay travelers; the travel preferences and motivations of gay and lesbian travelers; comparisons to mainstream travelers; and new trends based on eleven years of market monitoring.

A complimentary copy of the report may be requested at

CMI will produce the "7th International Conference on Gay & Lesbian Tourism" in San Francisco in October, at which time this new market research, as well as many other topics, will be presented.

In 1994, Community Marketing Inc. pioneered the practice of collecting and analyzing data on gay and lesbian travelers through focus groups and field and online surveys. Leading urban destinations such as Las Vegas, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale and Philadelphia, and the national tourism boards of Canada and Switzerland among others, have turned to CMI's data and market insights to better understand gay and lesbian travelers, and to measure and improve the effectiveness of their gay tourism marketing initiatives.

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