The Indian travel trade has reacted positively to the recent Supreme Court ruling that decriminalised homosexuality, a move that’s expected to provide a significant boost to the South Asian nation’s LGBT tourism industry.
“LGBT tourism or pink tourism is a multibillion market globally. India was not in the mind of most LGBT travellers because of the law against the homosexuality. However, with the new ruling India has a great opportunity to tap the inbound LGBT tourism market,” said Arun Anand, managing director, Midtown Travels.
Tour operators that were already catering to the LGBT segment expect the positive effects on tourism stemming from the Supreme Court ruling to become apparent from next year onwards.
“Considering India’s tourism season starts from October, tourists have already made plans for this year, so we have to be optimistic for 2019. Our existing clients have expressed happiness on the decriminalising of homosexuality and have also started making enquiries about various tours,” said Rajat Singla, director, Pink Vibgyor.
Since the new ruling, Singla has seen big Indian tour operators step up efforts to cater to LGBT travellers, such as by coming up with webpages on gay tourism.
“We are also trying to start gay bed and breakfast boutique stays in cities like New Delhi, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur,” he added.
Some tour operators also believe LGBT tourism will help to draw high income inbound tourists to India.
“The LGBT community contributes to high-value tourism because of their good disposable income. They mostly prefer comfortable holidays and spend money on luxury products. I believe the new ruling will encourage LGBT community to travel freely without any perceptions and social restrictions,” said Ravi Gosain, managing director, Erco Travels.
In addition to a handful of tour operators which are already promoting holiday packages to the LGBT community, Gosain believes that this high-spending segment will soon become “the target market of other tour operators too”.
However, trade members also pointed out that more still needs to be done to promote LGBT tourism in India and compete with other international markets for this segment of travellers.
“I feel that India’s Ministry of Tourism needs to play a big role in promotion of this segment and the tour operators can always bank on a focused marketing approach. In global trade shows like WTM and ITB, the India pavilion can now have a separate section for pink tourism,” Anand remarked.
“Moreover, we need to learn from countries like Thailand to come up with events specifically targeted at LGBT tourism and widely publicise it across the global markets,” he added.
Single remarked: “At present we are far behind countries like Thailand in terms to incoming arrivals for this niche market, but now we may see a change.”