Buenos Aires, World Capital of Gay Tourism
Buenos Aires, World Capital of Gay Tourism
Argentina is the second country preferred for “high end gay tourism”, only below Thailand. According to a report by consulting firms such as Boutique Marketing, from the UK, and the Argentinian Gnetwork 360, the several touristic options, such as natural beauties, art, and gastronomy are one of the reasons Argentina came second among so many others.
But there are many more reasons that make Argentina a gay friendly country.
Buenos Aires, has been organizing for seven years now, the Gnetwork360 Conference, an international marketing and tourism LGBT conference –acronym that stands for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals- after realizing the great business opportunity this particular touristic segment represented.
As a matter of fact, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, gay tourism represents about 10% of tourism around the world, which means approximately 150 thousand million dollars a year. Moreover, while general tourism grew by 3% in 2013, LGBT tourism grew by a 9.7%.
A State Policy
Coming back to the Gnetwork360 Conference, it is worth noting that at the beginning it was planned as an informal networking event, but with time it became a set of conferences and business meetings that are now a reference for the entire community at a worldwide level.
In this last edition of the conference there were more than 2000 proposals and touristic offers –among airlines, guides, destinations, etc.- and more than 48 speakers lectured. The event was also useful to share strategies of successful communication for all that area (specially linked to digital technology and social networks) and many destinations came up from more than 15 countries that are willing to join this area of tourism.
The conference was sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism of the Nation (through Inprotur- Institute of Touristic Promotion-) as a tourism agency of Buenos Aires, which shows the importance of this touristic niche to the industry and the government.
Actually, the conference was a good time for the executive secretary of Inprotur, Roberto Palais, to state and highlight as a “State Policy” the actions of promotion that the entity is carrying on with respect to this whole area.
Focusing on this market is a new thing. 10 or 15 years ago there wasn’t any type of planning or actions that were designed to stimulate the arrival of these tourists to Argentina, but this has been changing over time since the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce of Argentina (Ccglar) started working with the state to portrait Argentina as a touristic destination for LGBT tourism.
Before focusing in this specific area, the data surveyed by Inprotur said that 15% of the total expenses in tourism came from this group; 16% of the total GDP; 55% of the members of this community traveled at least 5 times a year; spent 30% more in average than other touristic groups; and 87% traveled through agencies as opposed to the 42% of other tourists; and 72% had an active passport, which is more than twice as many as the rest of the population.
As we know, the DINK (Double Income, No Kids) couples are usually couples that with a good income and a high educational level have more liberty when it comes to spending their money, than other couples that do have children, among them, the LGBT group is known for spending a lot of money in designer’s brands and traveling.
Among the main worries of people from this group is traveling to a country whose legislation respects their rights. It is worth noting that in the subject of inclusion of the homosexual community, and the recognition of their rights, Argentina is far ahead compared to other countries, even first world countries.
The law of Equal Marriage, passed in 2010 and the law of Gender Identity legitimized the situation of many people and couples and put the topics related to the inclusion of this community in the agenda of the media and of the entire society, the private and the public sector.
In this sense, marriages among couples of the same sex are magnet for tourism, given that many couples come from countries where their union isn’t allowed or they are persecuted (i.e. Russia) come to the country to get married and to take a vacation too. In five days they can have the documents and papers ready to come get married in Argentina.
Part of the gay friendly face of the country comes from the fact that very conservative societies (like the provinces of Salta or Mendoza) are working to communicate their touristic proposals for this niche.
Traditional celebrations and local customs have their gay version, this is the case of the Vendimia for Everybody, in Mendoza, the Party of the Gay Sun, in San Juan and the Pride Parade, among other destinations and celebrations in cities such as Port Madryn or Usuaia.
Without a doubt, one of the main attractions for this niche is the phenomenon of gay tango and milonga, the inclusive version of the Buenos Aires’s famous tradition.
For those who don’t know, it is worth saying that when tango was first created, towards the end of the nineteenth century, it was usually danced among men, women weren’t allowed to dance it or to visit tango or milonga places.
The truth is after Buenos Aires became the world’s capital of tango this same dance became the sexiest dance between a man and a woman.
In the last few years, the Argentinian capital has become the first city in Latin America to offer gay friendly tango and milonga lounges, this is the case of La Marshall or Tango Queer, places that are full of tourists from around the world all year round. As a matter of fact, Buenos Aires is the host of the International Festival of Queer Tango that was first created in 2007 and will be celebrated from the 17th until The 23rd of November.
Another fact that needs to be noted with respect to touristic promotion is that Inprotur is doing more than 600 different things to promote tourism in other countries. “Pink Corners” are put in tourism congresses and fairs such as the ones in Madrid, Berlin, Las Vegas, and Brazil that are known by the entire industry.
This is how the stand of Argentina LGBT, exhibited in the Fair of Tourism of Berlin (ITB 2014), was chosen as one of the best 15 in the world in its category, because of its design, sustainability, creativity, innovation, technology and attention.
However, there are still things to do for LGBT tourism and Argentina is no exception to this. Lesbians and transsexuals are claiming that offers should be more focused towards their needs, which doesn’t usually happen, because usually the focus is on the tastes and requirements of homosexual men.