Destinations looking to increase their LGBT+ visitors “should not be afraid and should just go for it”, according to Malta’s UK and Ireland chief.
During a panel discussion exploring how different tourist hotspots are successfully appealing to the LGBT+ market, Peter Vella explained how Malta had been named Europe’s most LGBT-friendly destination for a fourth year in a row in 2019 by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
Vella told delegates that despite Malta’s traditionally conservative culture, a referendum result in favour of legalising divorce in 2011 had paved the way for a flurry of pro-LGBT+ legislation.
Leah Chandler, chief marketing officer for private sector-backed Discover Puerto Rico, explained how it had “mystery shopped” tourism suppliers on the island to gauge attitudes towards the LGBT+ community after deciding to boost visitors from the sector, with positive results.
Delegates also heard from Berlin-based hotel manager Philip Ibrahim of the Pink Pillow project – a collection of LGBT+-welcoming hotels in the German capital.
“A hotel shouldn’t just be crossing a box to say they’re LGBT+-welcoming, they need to be connected to the scene and making a difference,” he advised.