A report put together by official tourism organization Visit Scotland, and the Equality Network – the country’s LGBTI equality charity – has explored the views and needs of gay and transgender travelers to Scotland.
The report was based on a web-based survey of 930 LGBT individuals. Among its keys findings are the following:
- Despite 77% saying that they consider Scotland an LGBT Friendly destination, only 3% said Scotland comes to mind first when thinking about LGBT destinations around the world.
- 53% of LGBT travelers said they sought out LGBT specific information for their travel destination
- 74% of UK travelers and 70% of rest of the world travelers (who would get married abroad) would consider a same-sex marriage in Scotland.
- 48% of non-UK travelers who have never been to Scotland would like to come
- 30% of travellers from outside Scotland said they did not know whether Scotland is LGBT friendly
- 88% said the local legal situation for LGBT people was an important factor in their choice of destination
When asked for the most common reasons for visiting Scotland, respondents commented on the scenery and friendliness of the people. The most common factors for not visiting included ‘weather’, ‘cost’ and ‘distance’.
Scott Cuthbertson, from the Equality Network, said of the results: ‘Scotland has all the ingredients of a world class LGBT friendly travel destination, a favorable legal landscape, great places to visit and the friendliest people in the world, its time to make more of that and send out a warm welcome to LGBT travellers.
‘The tourism industry is worth millions to the Scottish economy every year, other destinations are already actively targeting the LGBT market, there is every reason for Scotland to do the same, creating jobs and supporting equality at the same time. It’s a win-win scenario for Scotland.’
Annually, tourism is worth approximately £4.3 billion to Scotland’s economy, while the global LGBT tourism industry is worth some £110billion.
Following the research, Equality Network has issued recommendations that Scotland should do more to explicitly promote itself to LGBT travellers and to promote itself as a same-sex marriage destination.
Same-sex marriages in Scotland became legal in late 2014, following England and Wales earlier in the year.
It also recommends more be done to promote LGBT-friendly accommodation in rural parts of the country.
Visit Scotland has now launched a specific LGBT portal on its website. Among its specific recommendations for LGBT travellers are the Glasgay! arts festival and Pride Scotia – as well as highlighting the fact that the Edinburgh Festival each summer traditionally offers a wealth of programming of interest to LGBTI culture vultures.
Commenting on the report, Ian Johnson of OutNow Consulting suggested that a microsite was a good start but did not go far enough: ‘Scotland is operating in an increasingly competitive environment. What worked last decade, or even last year is often just not enough to win cut-through and sales in such a competitive tourism environment.
‘Clients that do more – such as training their staff working in hotels to become certified as Out Now’s clients do – recognize that customers are becoming used to LGBT microsites and these cannot be the start and end of a campaign.
‘LGBT microsites are important but more is needed to make sure the tourism product on offer matches the client’s needs in terms of delivering genuine welcome and safe accommodation to LGBT travellers.’
In a statement to Gay Star Business, Chris McCoy, VisitScotland Equality and Diversity Manager, said:
‘As well as its scenery, landmarks and events, Scotland is famous for its warm welcome, and whilst the perception of being made to feel welcome in Scotland is quite high among LGBTI Scottish visitors, there is still room for improvement, particularly amongst visitors outside of the country.
‘Following the publication of the report we created a dedicated webpage with information tailored for LGBTI visitors and we are committed to making this market part of our overall drive to make Scotland an accessible and inclusive destination.
‘Through communication channels and on-going work with the industry, VisitScotland is continuing to develop and enhance the information that is available to LGBTI visitors both before and during their trip to ensure Scotland is viewed as a progressive, inclusive and safe place to visit.’