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GVB luring LGBTQ tourism

Posted: May 10, 2018 10:41 AM Updated:

Have a Gaycation in Guam!

The Guam Visitors Bureau is looking to tap into a new market that has reached full bloom worldwide. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer - or LGBTQ - tourist market is generating billions of dollars, and Guam is looking to take a bite out of that pie.

“They have a market value of $50-$70 billion,” GVB Japan Market Manager Brian Borja said. “As you can see, it’s a more higher yield market for us, it’s definitely a segment that we want to go after.”

GVB joining the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association last year, attending the IGLTA global convention and a GVB delegation attended the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Event last week in Japan. The IGLTA is the world’s biggest LGBTQ tourism organization and is also a member of UN World Tourism Organization.

With same-sex marriage legalized on Guam, it’s just one facet of what makes Guam a “gay-friendly” destination for LGBTQ travelers.

“One of our first messages out there in the market is that you can come to Guam – which is a very romantic destination – and you can get married,” Borja said.

The first LGBTQ pride festival – “Guam Pride” was held last year, and GVB is firing up its marketing machine to get the message out about this year’s festival.

With an estimated 9-10 millon LGBTQ population in Japan – and a 65 million LGBTQ population in China, the race is on as worldwide tourism markets try to attract LGBTQ travelers – in big part because they spend more than “straight” tourists.

“They actually travel with higher frequency and they have a higher than average spending,” Borja said.

Guam Pride festival founder Lasia Casil – one of the first proponents of pushing for LGBTQ tourism on Guam - says there’s money to be made in the market.

“If we could just tap .01 percent of that market, that would be $156 million that we could bring into our island,” Guam Pride founder Lasia Casil said.

As reported on KUAM News, last year GVB brought out award-winning LGBTQ travel writer Andrew Collins to pen a piece about Guam as a gay-friendly destination. It turned out to be a marriage made in paradise, as Collins’ work has been turned into the first tool being used to lure LGBTQ tourists to Guam.

Touting the “Guam Pride” festival – “7 Days in Paradise” – this colorful booklet will be translated and sent out to Guam’s source markets, with the end goal of making Guam the LGBTQ travel Mecca of the Pacific.

“Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and of course our friends and family in the mainland states – US,” Borja said.

The pamphlet plots out a week-long visit to Guam for LGBTQ tourists, covering same-sex marriage and most of the same things we use to attract traditional visitors to Guam – beaches, Chamorro food, shopping and the obligatory spa day.

With outside forces – like last year’s North Korea threats – causing hiccups in Guam’s tourism numbers, GVB believes LGBTQ tourists can help stabilize our island’s main economic driver.

“We are looking for opportunities and ways to minimize and overcome those challenges and going after this higher-yield tourism market – LGBTQ segment – we see that as an opportunity to minimize those negative effects,” Borja said.

A large part of the LGBTQ market is labeled “DINK” – meaning “Double Income No Kids” – and that may be why they tend to spend more when they travel.

“In some of the reports that we’ve been reading and learning about this particular market, we just know that it’s higher than average spending.”

While GVB plans to use most of its usual tools to attract LGBTQ tourists to Guam – Borja says when it comes to marketing the island, the most valuable resource the island has is you and me.

“It’s our people. Our Chamorro people and our general hospitality. In general we’re just an open minded type of community here. It doesn’t really matter where you’re from. If you’re a visitor, we welcome you with open arms and we value your business. That’s what sets us apart – in any market – and it really applies to LGBTQ tourism marketing,” Borja said.

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