The travel industry still has a “massive lack” of readily available information for LGBT+ travellers, impacting their ability to properly prepare for and enjoy their holidays.
That was the message of Shannon Donoghue of Responsible Travel’s specialist travel team, who outlined to delegates her own difficulties as an LGBT+ traveller in getting the right advice for a break abroad.
Donoghue recalled how during a trip to Italy last summer, she and her partner did not feel able to hold hands in public, as they did not know how it would be received by locals.
She also recounted a story of LGBT+ friends who, during a Sri Lankan homestay in 2014, pretended to be both heterosexual and to “have husbands waiting for them back home” so as not to offend locals they were staying with.
Using her examples, Donoghue stressed how detailed prior knowledge of attitudes to LGBT+ people in a destination would allow travellers to “not just be you in your hotel room”.
“If someone had been able to tell us for instance ‘don’t hold hands here but 10 miles down the road they are more welcoming’, we would have had that peace of mind.”
Responsible Travel released its own LGBT+ travel guide earlier this year in a bid to “empower LGBT+ customers with knowledge”, Donoghue said, featuring a “Making a Difference” section that allowed suppliers to detail how they are actively catering for LGBT+ travellers.
Donoghue also urged travel sellers to work “on a local level” by speaking with hotel staff beforehand to ensure a positive experience for guests.
“You don’t have to be LGBT+ or an LGBT+ specialist to give travellers great service – just have empathy for people’s needs,” she said.