91% of Indian LGBTQ+ Travellers are more Comfortable Travelling With  Growing Inclusivity in the Travel Industry: Booking.com

Rise in the use of Digital Travel Platforms: 57% of Indians prefer a planned Itinerary and 40% are looking for a connected trip experience 

INDIA, 05 JUNE 2023: With a mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world,  regardless of how they identify, Booking.com’s most extensive LGBTQ+ travel research to date  spotlights the steady progress, as well as the recent setbacks, for these communities when it comes  to travel. Despite the travel industry’s growing recognition of the scope and variety of LGBTQ+  experiences, divisive political decisions from the past year have hindered efforts to eliminate  challenges and prioritize safety. Now in its third year the survey highlighted that 91% of Indian LGBTQ+  travellers report that they must consider their personal safety and well-being when choosing a  destination (a significant increase from 70% last year). This concern is particularly high among intersex  (90%), genderfluid (90%), transfeminine (89%), and transmasculine (87%) travellers. 

The study reveals that mainstream news, including stories about current major international sporting  and musical events as well as celebrity and corporate sponsorships, has brought discriminatory laws  and viewpoints into the public eye for many, influencing decisions about where to travel. Nearly 78% of Indian respondents acknowledge that news stories about attitudes, discrimination and violence  towards people who identify as LGBTQ+ have had a significant influence on their decision about where  to travel. 

A Regressive Revolution 

The LGBTQ+ community is yet to experience the adage-travel has no boundaries, as there are still 64  countries that criminalize same-sex relationships, with 11 nations levying the death penalty on them.  An overwhelming 80% of respondents in India asserted that such destinations are entirely off their  radar. Even after booking their trips, LGBTQ+ travellers in India remain vigilant, with 62% of LGBTQ+  individuals and 63% of transgender people having canceled a trip in the past year after seeing a  destination not supporting those who identify as LGBTQ+. This rearward approach questions the  personal safety of the community when planning a voyage. 

The next major issue that makes travelling uncomfortable and stressful for them is the pervasive  discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ individuals throughout the entire expedition. Going by the survey  results, a majority of respondents, 79%, reported facing discrimination, and the figures rose to 86% for transfeminine and 83% for transmasculine travellers.  

33% of respondents have experienced stereotyping  

29% of LGBTQ+ travellers have been gazed at, giggled at, or verbally abused by fellow  wanderers. 

27% of respondents have been threatened or unnerved by local law enforcement 

Although travel is often associated with freedom and self-expression, several LGBTQ+ members still  feel constrained. Around 44% have felt the necessity to adjust their behaviour to avoid judgement or  awkward encounters, marking an increase from 37% in 2022. Additionally, 36% felt compelled to alter  their appearance for the same reason, up from 29% in 2022. This pressure is most common among  young LGBTQ+ visitors, who often succumb to the pressure.

Transforming Caution into Confidence: 

Apart from personal safety, other key motivators like breath-taking natural scenery (54%), delectable  local cuisine (41%) and pristine beaches (48%), also play a very strong role for the LGBTQ+ community  when shortlisting destinations. 

Remarkably, despite the hurdles, 90% of LGBTQ+ respondents (as against 72% in 2022), find their  identity actually makes them more confident as a traveller. When it comes to experiences on a holiday,  89% of LGBTQ+ members feel confident when engaging in any activities they want, with an  overwhelming majority (87%) like to seek out attractions and activities that are tailored to people  identifying as LGBTQ+. 

Positive travel experiences continue to uplift LGBTQ+ communities. An overwhelming 97% of LGBTQ+  travellers have encountered delightful interactions during their stays. Furthermore, 58% have enjoyed  positive pre-arrival communication with the accommodation and 51% have had excellent experiences  upon arrival (an impressive increase from 26% in 2022) 

Building an Inclusive Community 

The travel industry is clearly playing a part in shifting attitudes and perceptions. An overwhelming 91% of LGBTQ+ travellers India feel more comfortable travelling due to the increased inclusivity in the  travel industry and 87% of genderfluid or genderqueer sightseers now feel more comfortable. 

However, despite the progress, significant work is still required to cater to the needs of LGBTQ+  travellers. This is especially the case when it comes to receiving LGBTQ+ specific guidance which is less  frequent – for instance, 40% of respondents desired more details on the LGBTQ+ status of their  destination, local laws, religious sensitivities, and safety tips.  

For this, travel companies have a vital role as allies by implementing inclusive policies and fostering  welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ wanderers. According to the survey,  

85% of Indian respondents prefer airlines and brands with inclusive policies, including gender neutral uniforms.  

● Additionally, 86% of Indian respondents (compared to 72% last year), are more inclined to  book with LGBTQ+ owned brands. 

Booking.com introduced its Travel Proud program in 2021, providing complimentary inclusive  hospitality training for accommodations. It aims to enhance awareness of the unique obstacles  LGBTQ+ travellers encounter and foster a welcoming atmosphere, irrespective of nationality, sexual  orientation, or gender identity. 

Arjan Dijk, CMO and Senior Vice President at Booking.com said “In a world of increasing  contradictions and instability, it’s no surprise that the LGBTQ+ travellers of today are simultaneously  more cautious and more confident. At Booking.com, we believe that everyone should be able to  experience the world as themselves, always. While visibility, understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ+  people has come a long way in recent years, we can’t take that progress for granted. The travel  industry should strive to be a beacon of inclusion, helping foster an environment where everyone can  flourish and thrive, whether exploring closer to home or traveling to the other side of the world.”