South-east Asia gears up for pink tourism

TOURISM suppliers in Asia are taking a more serious approach to woo lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travellers, attracted by the high spending power of this fledgling segment.

ITB Asia debuted the Pink Corner for gay and leisure tourism suppliers this year. Said ITB Asia executive director, Nino Gruettke: “The LGBT market is a highly attractive niche market, so we are using the Pink Corner as a test to find out more and listen to the needs of this market.”

Thomas Bömkes, managing director of Munich’s, appointed LGBT consultant for ITB Berlin, remarked: “LGBT travel has been around in South-east Asia for ages, but nobody paid much attention to it until recently. While Thailand and Bali are traditionally popular with the community, Cambodia, Vietnam and India are also emerging as hotspots.”

Several regional hoteliers told TTG Asia e-Daily that they are taking discreet steps to target this niche segment.

Bali’s Le Jardin resort, which listed itself on a local LGBT tour operator website early this year, has recorded a 20 per cent increase in LGBT bookings so far.

The Kunja Villa & Spa Bali’s general manager, Mangku Suteja, estimated gay travellers to constitute about five per cent of the resort’s guests and predicted that the segment would grow stronger on the back of Bali’s accommodating culture and supply of high-end private villa resorts.

Since W Singapore Sentosa Cove’s opening, the LGBT demographic has already become a “significant niche market that cannot be ignored”, said director of sales & marketing, Rosmalia Hardman.

She added: “We do not differentiate or track the numbers of gay guests at our hotel nor do we intentionally target our promotion efforts at this segment, but W hotels’ design-oriented approach has always drawn these travellers.”

Hotel Fort Canning (HFC) in Singapore, which has been officially marketing itself as a gay-friendly property since September 2011, is encouraged by the growth of this segment, said assistant director of sales, Pansy Long.

She explained: “We want to tap the gay market as they have high spending power. We have seen a five per cent increase in LGBT bookings since last year till now. Furthermore, we (send out) regular email blasts as well as tie-ups with Worldhotels (which HFC is a member of) to roll out gay-friendly promotions.”

Furama Resort Danang has also differentiated itself as a LGBT-friendly property in Vietnam, said executive assistant manager Nguyen Duc Guynh, who observed a rise of 15 per cent in LGBT bookings compared to three years ago.

“We are going to roll out more serious efforts to target the LGBT market, with the intention to launch special promotions and packages while advertising in local magazines read by the LGBT community,” he added.

Meanwhile, Luxury Travel Vietnam is keen to reap “the first mover advantage” by identifying the firm as an LGBT-friendly tour operator, CEO Pham Ha said.

“This market segment is growing very fast – we have recorded a 20 per cent surge in word-of-mouth recommendations from past clients,” noted Pham, whose main sources of LGBT travellers hail from Australia and the US.

When asked about the outlook of LGBT travel in South-east Asia,’s Bömkes replied: “Thailand and Bali are already attracting a lot of LGBT travellers without NTO support, so there is certainly plentyof room to tap this niche market.”

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