AARP Eye Center
| LGBTQ travelers and their families are a growing target market for the travel industry, with resorts, cruise lines and many new destinations now offering gay-friendly options.
The travel industry is “capitalizing on new interests and opportunities for people to be themselves all over the place and not just in limited destinations,” says Ed Salvato, an LGBTQ travel expert.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many destinations and hotel chains began conducting sensitivity trainings to better serve diverse LGBTQ travelers, beyond what is depicted in stereotypical branding.
“I think companies are starting to think about their duty of care, like, ‘Maybe we better think about specific concerns, fears and needs of these queer guests,’” Salvato says.
Among the friendly spots, he says, are some locations in the Caribbean; Miami and Fort Lauderdale, in Florida; Stockholm; Sydney; Los Angeles; Amsterdam; New York City; and Hawaii.
Puerto Rico, for example, has made LGBTQ inclusivity a core pillar of its Discover Puerto Rico marketing campaign, Salvato says.
Its website illustrates gay couples, highlights locally owned LGBTQ businesses, promotes gay events and conducts LGBTQ sensitivity training for staff at tourist destinations.
Now that COVID-19 restrictions are loosening, many destinations are focused on simply attracting travelers back, Salvato says. Eventually they will return to sensitivity trainings and marketing toward specific segments of the LGBTQ community that they had started before the pandemic.
For families, Salvato recommends R Family Vacations, a travel agency that directs LGBT families to friendly options. Specific locations include:
- Hawaii, where “the aloha spirit is so friendly and welcoming that you can go with your kids.”
- Four Seasons Orlando — near Disney World, which promotes itself to the LGBTQ family market as a friendly resort.
- Provincetown, Massachusetts, a traditional destination for gay travelers, where a family week is now among the summer events offered (July 24 to 31 this year).
“Queer families are just as likely to go where every other family is going. It’s just making sure that queerness will not be an object of ridicule or unnecessary focus,” Salvato says.
Booking a trip
10 Best U.S. Destinations for LGBTQ Families 2021
- Long Beach, California
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Oahu, Hawaii
- San Diego
- New York City
- Washington, D.C.
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
Source: Family Vacationist