LGBT travel study good news for rural destinations


LGBT travel study good news for rural destinations

Research by a Charles Sturt reveals regional areas are favoured by members of the LGBT community as a travel/holiday destination.

  • Charles Sturt study investigates travel preferences of LGBT communities
  • Research shows that LGBT individuals take on average more trips than their heterosexual-cis-gendered counterparts and have a preference for rural travel
  • Results provide basis for further investigations on link between gender identity and sexual orientation on travel preferences

An Australian first motivation study of LGBT travellers by a Charles Sturt University academic and colleagues suggests that sexual orientation and gender influence travel preferences.

Charles Sturt Senior Lecturer in Marketing in the School of Business Dr Clifford Lewis recently published ‘Linking travel motives to identity and travel behaviour of the Australian LGBT market during COVID-19’ with Professor Girish Prayag from the University of New Zealand and Dr Shah Pour from the University of Sunshine Coast.

The study examines the link between travel motives and activities of LGBT people and will help develop travel products and services that support the unique needs of the LGBT community.

Research has shown that LGBT individuals take on average more trips than their heterosexual-cis-gendered counterparts, making them a significant market for the travel and tourism industry.

Through data collected by people in the LGBT community during COVID-19, researchers were able to determine the link between motives, identity and travel activity.

The paper aimed to contribute to broader tourism literature. Even though data was collected during COVID-19, when lockdowns were in place, borders were closed and travel was limited, the findings can be used to inform the tourism industry after the pandemic.

‘Push motives’ and ‘pull motives’ of the LGBT community were examined. These are factors relating to the desire for excitement, escape, relaxation, family togetherness, safety, achievement and knowledge, and experiences available at the destination and the destination’s image, respectively.

“Importantly, we found in this study that LGBT people want a diverse range of experiences when they travel,” Dr Lewis said.

“And just because you are LGBT does not mean you want LGBT specific experiences.”

The study found that age, sexuality and gender and identification with the LGBT communities were important influences on the travel motives of LGBT people.

A preference for travel to rural towns, both in Australia and overseas, was shown across all sample categories, which included social butterflies, escapists, safety seekers, blurring binaries, and conformists.

Operators in these destinations need to develop experiences that allow LGBT individuals to socialise and have LGBT-specific experiences safely and inclusively away from home. Partnering with LGBT advocacy organisations, advertising in LGBT media and using LGBT symbols like the progress flag could help re-position these locations.

“Travel plays a complex role helping to satisfy needs that you cannot satisfy at home,” Dr Lewis said.

“This can be about being around other LGBT people, it can be about feeling safe while expressing your sexuality or gender identity.

“Travel can help LGBT people access a space where people can be free to be themselves without looking over their shoulder or trying to behave like the norm … so the types of experiences people are looking for depend on their home environment and what they do not get there, or do not feel safe about accessing there.”

This study has provided the basis of future exploration of associated issues, such as impact of identity affirmation, expression, and motives on the evaluative criteria adopted by LGBT travellers.

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Dr Clifford Lewis, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0429 217 026 or

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Business and Economics Charles Sturt University ILWS