Gay and lesbian tourism: Travel motivations, destination choices and holiday experiences of gays and lesbians

Nina Ballegaard & Jane Chor

Student thesis: Master thesis


Gay and lesbian tourism has only recently started receiving attention and gaining importance as a field of study from researchers and marketers. This master’s thesis is a contribution to the growing body of research on these consumers. In the thesis, gay and lesbian tourists’ travel motivations, destination choices and holiday experiences are analysed and discussed on the basis of findings from a qualitative, explorative study of more than 50 gays and lesbians. The study was conducted in the form of in-depth interviews with actual and potential gay and lesbian tourists. The interviewees were found through snowballing; contacts in gay accommodation; at gay and lesbian bars in Denmark; and at international gay and lesbian events. The participants in the study should, however, not be seen as representative of gay men and lesbians in general, but they do constitute a cross-section of homosexuals aged between 23 and 61 from thirteen different countries. Three key findings have been made which will be outlined in the master’s thesis. First of all, gay and lesbian tourists’ travel motivations are extremely diverse, and it is therefore important to take into account the different interpretations and life worlds that gays and lesbians present. Moreover, many travel motivations of homosexuals seem to be in line with those of heterosexual tourists. However, some aspects of holidaying seem to be of particular importance to many interviewees, namely the wish for feeling safe and accepted, frequenting gay space, and joining gay/lesbian events while holidaying. Secondly, when it comes to destination choices, it seems like some gays and lesbians avoid certain destinations because of their sexuality whereas it has not been possible to distinguish interviewees who choose to go to destinations exclusively based upon their sexuality. In addition, lesbian tourists’ travel motivations, destination choices and holiday experiences have been discussed separately, and there seem to be substantial differences concerning various aspects of holidaying between gay men and lesbians. Lastly, it has been discovered that gays and lesbians are aware and capable of managing their multiple identities in the sense that they sometimes apply the ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ aspects of their identities while holidaying and sometimes emphasise other identities such as national, occupational or gender identities. In the very end of the master’s thesis, recommendations for further studies on gay and lesbians tourism are provided, and it is put forward that developing more research within this field is important because gays and lesbians have not been given much voice in tourism studies. Thus, researchers are encouraged to focus even more upon the influence on culture upon gays’ and lesbians’ travel motivations and holiday choices; conduct studies exclusively on lesbian tourists; and look into the holiday motivations of homosexual families.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages133