Africa Travel Week
LGBTQ+ Gaycations

Limelight Gaycations: The Emerging Trend in LGBTQ+ Travel

LGBTQ+ travel is on a trajectory to surpass $568.5 billion by 2030, as reported by Globetrender – and limelight gaycations are a big part of this, reshaping the landscape of LGBTQ+ travel. They’re essentially travel experiences inspired by locations prominently featured in LGBTQ+-themed media.

Holidays inspired by films and TV shows are gaining momentum across the globe, as demonstrated in a 2023 American Express survey, which found that 64% of respondents were inspired to visit specific destinations featured in media productions. For the queer community, these types of holidays are even more significant, particularly as destinations featured in TV shows and films quickly become landmarks of LGBTQ+ representation and acceptance.

“Films and TV shows with LGBTQ+ themes often explore the struggles, joys, and nuances of queer life. Visiting the locations where these were filmed can feel like stepping into a story that resonates with a person’s own experiences or aspirations, creating a deeper emotional connection – with the destination, the story, and yourself,” comments Dean Roberts, an avid traveller and member of the South African LGBTQ+ community.

Research also shows that limelight gaycations encourage a stronger sense of belonging. After all, the destinations from popular queer movies and shows become gathering spots for LGBTQ+ individuals from around the world. They offer a space where individuals can openly express their identity and find camaraderie with others who share similar experiences and interests.

“Where there is pride of place, there’s also pride in telling our stories. Our stories make a difference, our stories matter, and our stories need to be told to move this conversation of inclusivity forward. The vehicle to do that, I believe, is tourism,” says Sherwin Banda of African Travel Inc.

Now that we know why limelight gaycations are booming, it’s time to predict where many will take place in 2024. Based on 2023’s best-loved LGBTQ+ films and series, here are a few destinations to keep an eye on:

1. Italy: Capturing the Romance of I Kissed a Boy

Why It’s Popular: The Italian countryside, showcased in I Kissed a Boy, has become the ‘it’ place for travellers seeking the romantic, serene landscapes seen on screen.

Queer-Friendly Highlights:

  • Culinary Tours: Sample the rich flavours of Italian cuisine with guided tours.
  • Wine Tasting: Explore renowned vineyards offering a taste of local wines.
  • Historical Tours: Discover the history of Italy’s quaint villages and towns.
  • Pride Events: Participate in vibrant Pride celebrations in nearby cities.

2. Charlotte, NC: The Charm of The Ultimatum: Queer Love Season 2

Why It’s Popular: Charlotte’s feature in season 2 of The Ultimatum: Queer Love has spotlighted the city’s inclusive and vibrant culture (especially compared to other parts of North Carolina and the American South).

Queer-Friendly Highlights:

  • Nightlife: Dive into the city’s lively LGBTQ+ bars and clubs – The Scorpio and Bar Argon are local favourites.
  • Cultural Festivals: Enjoy a range of festivals, such as the Charlotte Pride Festival, celebrating diversity.
  • Arts Scene: Explore galleries and theatres, like the Queer Arts Consortium, showcasing queer artists.

3. Manhattan, NY: The Urban Beat of Dead Ringers

Why It’s Popular: Dead Ringers brought the electric and diverse atmosphere of Manhattan into the limelight, highlighting its status as an LGBTQ+ haven and the epicentre of queer culture.  

Queer-Friendly Highlights:

  • Broadway Shows: Experience the magic of LGBTQ+-themed plays and musicals.
  • Historic Tours: Visit iconic spots like Stonewall Inn, a landmark in LGBTQ+ history.
  • Rooftop Bars: Enjoy the cityscape from trendy, inclusive rooftop venues, such as The Dickens and The Eagle NYC.
  • Pride Parade: Join NYC Pride, one of the world’s largest and most renowned Pride parades.

4. Venice Beach: The Vibrant Backdrop of the Barbie Movie

Why It’s Popular: Venice Beach, featured in what was arguably 2023’s most anticipated release, the Barbie movie, is known for its eclectic, open-minded community, resonating with LGBTQ+ travellers of all ages.

Queer-Friendly Highlights:

  • Beach Parties: Participate in fun, inclusive beach parties like The Venice Pride Block Party and Gaywatch: Back To The Beach.
  • Art Walks: Explore the vibrant street art and local galleries.
  • Fitness & Yoga: Join community fitness and wellness events.
  • Social Gatherings: Engage in casual meet-ups and social events in a relaxed, inclusive environment.

Limelight gaycations, by celebrating the heart and soul of LGBTQ+ narratives, are reshaping the travel industry and forging new paths for cultural understanding and inclusivity.

“The ripple effect of limelight gaycations is felt profoundly in local communities. As travellers flock to these destinations, they bring economic benefits and a cultural exchange that fosters greater understanding and acceptance. This global spotlight encourages destinations to embrace diversity, paving the way for more inclusive communities worldwide,” says Olivia Gradidge, Marketing Manager for Travel and Tourism at Africa Travel Week

Here’s to limelight gaycations. Here’s to progress. Here’s to travel.

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.