What LGBTQ Travel means for business in Plett 

LGBTQ+ travel in Plett
Published: January 20th, 2022
by Donna Raw

LGBTQ Travel: What it is and what it means for business in Plett

Local lifestyle journalist, Donna Raw, starts to ‘unpack’ Plett Tourism’s new ‘Feel the love’ niche marketing campaign, focused on LGBTQ+ travel. This article is a resource for the tourism and travel trade in Plettenberg Bay.

To say the months following the outbreak of Covid 19 have been difficult seems inadequate. With retrenchment, business shutdowns, and more, we have suffered a tragic loss of, not only lives, but livelihoods too. Now, more than ever, South Africans need to stand together.

With the recently relaxed travel restrictions, and summer in full swing, there finally seems to be a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel. And, with the tourism industry in need of a dire reboot, Plett is itching to welcome tourists back with open arms, including a niche group of travellers who are leading the way: the LGBTQ+ community.

To help local businesses, as well as our own community, it is vital that we understand the dynamics of this important travel group and its potential role in rebuilding our post-pandemic economy. Below, we unpack the “pink dollar” and the guests that fall within this niche market.

What is LGBTQ+ travel?

Firstly, let’s discuss who these travellers are. Many readers may be unfamiliar with the term LGBTQ+ so let’s start by breaking down the acronym. LGBTQ stands for:

  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bi-sexual
  • Transgender
  • Queer

With the ‘+’ meaning ‘and other’.

LGBTQ+ can be viewed as an umbrella term for this community, with “LGB” (lesbian, bi-sexual, and gay) referring to sexual orientation, and “T” (transgender, or gender non-conforming) refers to indivuduals who have expressed a gender that may be different to what they were assigned at birth. The Q (queer reference) was once considered a demeaning slur for being gay, but “queer” has been reclaimed by some as a self-affirming umbrella term, especially among those who consider other labels restrictive. But as an umbrella term referring to a very diverse group of people, it is important to note the intersectionality of the LGBTQ+ community. Nationality, race, age, or socio-economic factors are just a few points differentiate us, and the same goes for those within the LGBTQ+ community.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what LGBTQ+ is, we can define LGBTQ+ travel as “the development and marketing of tourist products and services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer people” (as defined by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association). While LGBTQ+ friendly travel has been around for some time, the market is growing exponentially. Currently, LGBTQ+ tourism has an estimated global market value of around 3.7 trillion dollars (also jokingly referred to as the ‘pink dollar’). To say that there is potential revenue to be made by tapping into this market is an understatement. It’s no wonder that this group is rapidly becoming one of those most targeted by major hotels and travel companies around the world. By advertising themselves as ‘LGBTQ+ friendly’, and promoting a more inclusive vacation experience, these companies are already setting themselves up to reap the rewards.

Why should LGBTQ+ travel be a point of focus in Plett?

In South Africa, the LGBTQ+ market value (or ‘Pink Rand’, if you will), is estimated at a whopping 152 billion rand. This niche market alone makes up 3.8% of our national GDP.

When you think of the usual types of travellers that make their way to Plett – the glamorous lifestyle is an obvious attraction. However, contrary to what you may have thought, LGBTQ+ travelers aren’t only focused on luxury travel. They also fit into many other travel categories: mid-range or budget, lifestyle and adventure, family travel and more. In fact, many LGBTQ+ families, especially those with children, are looking for a safe and memorable holiday experience – and, with its sandy beaches and wide-range of family-friendly activities, I’m sure we can all agree that Plett is the perfect destination with something to offer every kind of traveller.

Why is LGBTQ+ welcoming important?

You don’t have to be a member of the community to market to LGBTQ+ travellers, but you do need to do your homework and understand their decision making.

LGBTQ+ travellers are loyal travellers. So, if they have a good experience at your establishment, they’ll be back – and they’ll tell their friends and family, too. An interesting finding made by the CMI (Community Marketing & Insights) in their most recent study was that in an increasingly more accepting world, a significant number of travellers who aren’t members of the LGBTQ+ community themselves, would still actively support and even switch to LGBTQ+ friendly companies and establishments. The bottom line is, in order for any business to stay successful, they may need to stay ahead or “get with the times”, as they say.

So, I’m sure by how your interest has, at the very least, been piqued and you’re probably wondering what you can do to prepare your company and staff for these LGBTQ+ travellers.

We’re glad to hear it.

Stay tuned for the next article in this segment where we will cover more of the marketing aspects of LGBTQ+ tourism, such as:

  • The importance of evaluating your company culture
  • Understanding the community, their needs, issues, and concerns.
  • The ‘do’s and don’ts’ of marketing to this group
  • Preparing your establishment and educating staff

“Our new ‘Feel the love’ LGBTQ+ travel campaign is focused on growing the travel industry in Plett and along the Garden Route. Reinventing and adapting our tourism industry and marketing approach is key to a quick recovery. The LGBTQ+ travel market is the fastest growing travel niche globally and is one of the few markets that continues to thrive in all categories and avenues of travel. Any company or business would be crazy to miss out on the ‘pink dollar’,” says Patty Butterworth, CEO Plett Tourism.


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