According to the Chicago Tribune, the recession has done little to curb the so-called “pink dollar”—the currency wielded by the nation’s gay and lesbian communities, who have refused to relinquish their travel plans, much to the delight of the nation’s travel industry. Now, hotel chains, destination cities, and airlines are all ramping up their efforts to woo pink dollars through gay-and-lesbian-targeted marketing programs.
Chasing the pink dollar can pay high dividends. In 2006, a U.S. Travel Association survey found that gay men spend an average of $800 per trip. Their straight counterparts, on the other hand, spend only about $540 per trip. The reason for the discrepancy has much to do with the “double income, no kids” effect that so many gay and lesbian couples enjoy, although adoption rates are on the rise.
The Tribune also says that travel is embedded into the cultural fabric of the gay and lesbian lifestyle. Cynthia Marquard, owner of Aqua Terra Travel in Chicago and a founding member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, added, “Gay culture likes to have a good time. And part of traveling is having a good time.”
With that in mind, here are the top 10 gay-friendly U.S. destinations. And, yes, it does make a difference. The U.S. Travel Association reports that 48% of gay men and 47% of lesbians are influenced by a destination’s gay friendliness when they make leisure travel choices.
1. San Francisco
3. New York City
4. Fire Island, N.Y.
5. Provincetown, Mass.
6. Los Angeles
7. Miami/South Beach
8. Las Vegas
9. New Orleans
10. Palm Springs/Palm Desert, Calif.
(Source: 2006 U.S. Travel Association Survey)