GLBT travel stays strong despite economic downturn

According to a recent national survey conducted by Harris Interactive, a global market research and consulting firm, 38 percent of gay and lesbian adults report they are absolutely certain or very likely to take their vacations as planned this year, compared with 34 percent of their heterosexual counterparts.

However when asked whether they might decide to shorten their vacation, a slightly larger proportion of gays and lesbians – 18 percent -- were absolutely certain or very likely to do so while 15% of heterosexual adults similarly said they would do so.

In addition, one quarter (25%) of gays and lesbians said they were absolutely certain or very likely to take a vacation by air this year, while only 19 percent of heterosexuals would do so. Given the backdrop of record high gasoline prices this summer, when the question was asked whether this year’s vacation might be taken by car, nearly a third (32%) of gay and lesbian respondents were absolutely certain or very likely to take a car, while 28 percent of heterosexuals were absolutely certain or very likely to do so.

The new nationwide survey of 2,772 U.S. adults, (ages 18 and over), of whom 275 self identified as gay or lesbian (which includes an oversample of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults), was conducted online between May 5 and 12, 2008, by Harris Interactive, in conjunction with Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc., a strategic public relations and marketing communications firm with special expertise in the GLBT market.

“The strong appetite for travel often is highlighted among gays and lesbians,” said Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications. “Though gay consumers are not more affluent than others, they appear to consistently budget more discretionary dollars towards travel, even during downturns in the economy such as we face now.” Witeck added that similar research conducted seven years ago also indicated that gays and lesbians had higher propensity than heterosexuals to begin traveling again after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Jim Quilty, Vice President and Sr. Consultant for Travel & Tourism Research at Harris Interactive, said “There are clear differentiators and market trends in gay travel that are especially important for destinations and travel suppliers to understand in the current economic cycle. This survey reinforces the resilience of lesbian and gay consumers when other travel spending is curtailed among other demographics.”

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