Hawaii Urged Not To Ignore LGBT Tourism

Sep 28, 2016

For the first time, HTA's Hawaii Tourism Conference featured a panel on LGBT tourism. Speakers included Joe Bock from Nella Media Group, Tom Roth from Community Marketing and Insights, Jim McMichael with Las Vegas LGBT Marketing, and Kelly Sanders with Starwood Waikiki.
Credit Molly Solomon

For the first time, the Hawai‘i Tourism Conference featured a session on LGBT travel. The islands have long been a destination for gay visitors, but state tourism officials have been slow to advertise it. As HPR’s Molly Solomon reports, many believe it’s an opportunity Hawai‘i can’t afford to pass up.

When it comes to attracting visitors, Hawai‘i’s a pretty easy sell. Its sandy beaches and lush mountains provide a picture perfect vacation getaway. But for LGBT travelers, that may not be enough.

“Right now Hawai‘i really isn’t on the gay map,” said Tom Roth, the President of Community Marketing and Insights, a San Francisco-based market research firm that specializes in the LGBT community.

“It used to be such a primary destination for LGBTs. And it hasn’t become less appealing, it’s just that other destinations have really kicked it up,” he said. “And Hawai‘i didn’t show up for that.”

Credit Molly Solomon

Roth says other metropolitan cities, including Las Vegas and Philadelphia, aggressively market LGBT travelers with print ad campaigns and commercials. And he says those marketing campaigns make a difference financially.

“In one of our studies, we found that 69% of LGBTs will travel to a destination that genuinely and specifically markets to them. We also found that they spend 38% more time and 37% more money at that destination that markets to them,” said Roth. “So yeah, it makes a difference.”

Roth says he’s currently working on an LGBT Hawaii report for the state tourism authority. That’s expected to be released publicly next month.