New research from Booking.com has revealed that that half of LGBTQ+ travellers have experienced some form of discrimination when travelling.
Main picture Pride march in Timor-Leste credit Tansuhree Rao on Unsplash
The research was conducted with 3,052 LGBTQ+ travellers across three continents and shines a light on attitudes, concerns and travel preferences, as well as past stay experiences, current realities and hopes for a more inclusive travel future.
LGBTQ+ Travel Safety
65% of those surveyed said that they have to consider their safety and wellbeing as an LGBTQ+ traveller when picking a destination. 58% believe that travelling as part of the LGBTQ+ community means that some destinations are off limits. These extra considerations for LGBTQ+ people extend across the entire planning and travel journey for more than half of those surveyed:
- 56% believe being LGBTQ+ impacts the decisions they make when planning a trip, with 51% saying that it has affected their destination bucket list.
- Over half (55%) report that being LGTBQ+ impacts who they choose to travel with.
- 57% indicate that traveling as an LGTBQ+ person impacts how they behave with their significant other when traveling together.
- Over half (52%) believe being LGTBQ+ impacts how they present themselves during their trip (e.g. clothing, makeup choices, etc).
Despite these fears, or possibly because of the precautions that are taken, 87% of LGTBQ+ travellers surveyed believe that the majority of the travel experiences they’ve had so far have been welcoming.
Despite the barriers and challenges that remain, this underscores an underlying optimism amongst LGBTQ+ travellers and a growing opportunity for the travel industry to do even better to create more welcoming experiences for everyone.
During Their Stay
According to the research, LGBTQ+ travellers report having had a mix of welcoming and awkward encounters when it comes to the accommodation experience during their trips. In fact, more than half (53%) have had less-than-welcoming or uncomfortable experiences at a property where they were staying, including:
- One in five (20%) have had staff assume they would need separate rooms or beds when checking in as a couple.
- 20% have felt the need to change their behavior – and 16% to change their appearance – to avoid judgement or awkward interactions with accommodation staff or owners.
- 19% have experienced staff or accommodation owners at check-in incorrectly assuming their relationship to their travel companion/companions.
- 17% have experienced unwelcoming or uncomfortable experiences while dining at hotel or accommodation restaurants.
- 17% have felt uncomfortable to ask for LGTBQ+ friendly local tips or recommendations
- Accommodation staff or owners have mistaken or incorrectly assumed pronouns or gender for 13% of travellers in correspondence ahead of arrival and for 12% of those when arriving at the desk.
- Interactions with other guests account for the most often reported source of less-than-welcoming or uncomfortable experiences, reported by nearly a quarter of those surveyed (24%).
However over half of LGTBQ+ travellers have felt welcomed most of the time (57%) during their stays, with those surveyed highlighting that interactions with staff throughout their stay (50%) and the check-in experience (44%) are the most important factors in creating a comfortable, welcoming stay. Other positive accommodation experiences revealed by the research include:
- One in three (36%) have experienced a great first impression on arrival such as welcome drinks and/or friendly staff.
- Nearly a third (30%) have had friendly and informative correspondence with the property ahead of arrival/check-in.
- 28% have received guidance/information to the local area during their stay, with 25% being offered this at check-in.
- 21% have been offered LGBTQ+ specific advice or guidance on the area during their stay, with almost one in five (18%) receiving this at the time of check-in.
Southeast Asia LGBTQ+ Safety
Earlier this year, a study, published by Asher & Lyric Fergusson, looked at the top 150 most-visited countries in the world (by number of incoming tourists) and then carefully examined LGBTQ+ rights for each country.
A LGBTQ+ travel safety index was created based on nine ranking factors.
Thailand was the highest ranked country in Southeast Asia but only at number 53 of the 150 countries. They scored a travel safety rating of 130 and a C- ranking.
A number of countries in the region found themselves toward the bottom of the list.
The worst performing country was Malaysia who were in 148th place with a safety score of -163 and an F ranking. Laws in the country mean that the punishment for committing carnal intercourse is up to 20 years imprisonment and whipping and anyone convicted of committing or attempting to commit an act of gross indecency faces jail of up to 2 years.
In 143rd place was Myanmar, (safety score of -141 and F ranking, in 107th was Indonesia (1 . D-) and Singapore was 101st (20 / D-). In Myanmar the crime of carnal intercourse is punishable by “transportation for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” In Singapore any male person who commits or attempts to commit any act of gross indecency with another male faces jail for up to 2 years.
Creeping into the top 100 countries were Laos in 96th (37 / D), Philippines 94th (44 / D), Vietnam 86th (54 / D) and Cambodia in 71st (90 / D+).
Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 3,052 LGBTQ+ travellers from the United States (500), Canada (400), the UK (500), the Netherlands (251), Germany (501), France (500), Australia (300) and New Zealand (100). The survey was taken online and took place in June & July 2021
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