Cancun Contends for the LGBT Tourist Market

Monday Jul 2, 2012

CANCUN, Mexico - New data reveals that one of Latin America's strongest contenders to attract the lucrative LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) tourism dollar is the resort city of Cancun, Mexico.

A combination of natural advantages and smart marketing moves sees this city appeal to more LGBT visitors from a number of important source markets than any other destination in Mexico - by a large margin.

Research data released this week (source: Out Now Global LGBT2020 Study - ) by the world's leading LGBT consulting company - Out Now Global - reveals that in the lucrative US market of 15 million LGBT travelers, 23% of respondents would like to visit Cancun in the next three years - which is 9% ahead of its traditional gay market rival Puerto Vallarta and 7% ahead of Mexico City, which is currently the nearest competitor for the LGBT travel market in Mexico.

The city is also placed well amongst all Latin American destinations that appeal to LGBT tourists worldwide - with only Rio de Janeiro (ranked number 1), Buenos Aires (ranked number 2) and São Paulo (ranked number 3) ranking higher. Mexico City ranks fifth within Latin America amongst all LGBT travelers globally, while the city most often perceived to be the most gay-friendly in Mexico - Puerto Vallarta - not even showing up in the Top 10 Latin America desired 'gay' destinations.

There are good reasons for this.

"Mexico City has done a lot in recent years to actively target the gay and lesbian travel market," according to Mr Ruben Sandoval, CEO of LGBT Confex - the region’s leading LGBT events and conference organizer. "Cancun enjoys a strong attraction to many lesbian and gay travelers, especially those from the lucrative North American markets to the north - but it is significant that the local industry and its tourism office - the CVB of Cancun - is increasing its effort and budget commitment to this valuable market. Puerto Vallarta by comparison has done almost nothing to try to market to gay travelers and in fact has now fallen behind Mexico City in this latest research."

The study results come from the latest findings of the world’s largest LGBT marketing study ever, the research project from Out Now which surveys in twelve different languages across more than twenty markets worldwide.

"Mexico has a lot of appeal to LGBT travelers," says Ian Johnson, CEO of Out Now. "What is important for the local industry to grasp is that the market to attract gay and lesbian travelers is now highly competitive and to succeed requires commitment - both intellectually, and financially. And the rewards from doing so are great - and very financially rewarding."

Johnson’s company consults to many of the world’s leading brands and destinations about how to better market to gay and lesbian customers. He is presenting a Keynote address at the leading LGBT marketing event in the region which will be held in Cancun from September 6 - 9 and is being managed by Sandoval’s company LGBT Confex.

"When we add up the total numbers of gays and lesbians wanting to visit Mexico in general and Cancun in particular we see that as many as 3.5 million visitors from the USA alone want to get to Cancun sometime in the next three years," Johnson said.

"Not all of these will end up doing so however that is the number that would like to if they can. There are also more wanting to visit from many other countries with strong LGBT markets, such as from Europe. The smart marketers will realise they need to invest in training to make sure their staff understand how to best meet the travel concerns of gay travelers. Many are acutely concerned about how welcome they will feel on vacation, especially if they are traveling as a gay couple or a lesbian family. It is those destinations, tourist attractions and hotels which make LGBT guests feel most welcomed who can expect to realize the greatest share of the potential profits that the LGBT tourism market represents for Cancun."

Sandoval said his company is pleased to have chosen Cancun for their forthcoming event. "This new LGBT2020 research shows LGBT Confex was right to select Cancun as the location for our 2012 International Expo & Business LGBT event," said Sandoval.

"What encourages me most is that we will have a hands-on opportunity to network with local business and present conference and business opportunities to make sure Cancun realizes as much as possible of the potential future LGBT market revenue that is on offer. It is not always easy but it is very large and the sheer size of the market makes it more than worthwhile for Cancun industry.



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