At Virgin Holidays we believe that everyone, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or ability should be able to take on the world.
Unfortunately, recent research suggests that for the LGBT+ community, going on holiday often means going back in the closet for fear of discrimination. Both straight and LGBT+ holiday makers were asked how they act with loved ones on holiday and the results showed the stark contrast between these two groups.
Just one in twenty LGBT+ travellers felt comfortable showing affection with their partners whilst away, compared with 8 out of 10 straight people.
We were shocked and saddened by these latest findings and so decided to partner with issues-driven content publisher ATTN: to highlight the disparity between how LGBT+ feel compared to straight couples whilst on holiday. This tongue-in-cheek video has a serious message behind it and we’re hoping it will help to educate people and tackle this archaic form of discrimination and encourage travellers to #LoseTheLabels
And we’re not stopping there. Back in 2016 we unveiled a three-year plan to become one of the friendliest LGBT companies in travel with a plan that focused on empowering staff, educating customers and influencing suppliers. In 2017 we’ve focused on using our influence to advance LGBT+ equality in regions such as the Caribbean.
At the Caribbean Hoteliers and Tourism Association Conference in Miami the we convened close to 100 of the most influential industry stakeholders, and laid out our argument for LGBT+ inclusion. Despite the Caribbean having some conservative laws, the Association has agreed to establish its first-ever working group to address LGBT+ issues in the region.
Sir Richard Branson said: “At Virgin Holidays, we believe everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the right to be whoever they are, wherever they are. That’s why it is shocking that in today’s society some of us can’t even enjoy a simple holiday without fear of discrimination. It’s fantastic that Virgin Holidays are raising awareness around this important issue.”
We commissioned a travel report into the issues faced by LGBT travellers worldwide, which revealed more than one in three (37%) LGBT travelers have experienced some form of discrimination whilst on holiday, and 6% experienced a threat of physical violence due to their sexuality.
The report also highlighted that sexuality had a major influence on where LGBT Brits travelled, with two thirds (63%) refusing to travel somewhere that had an unwelcoming attitude towards the LGBT community.
Most alarmingly, an overwhelming 80% said that the travel industry don’t do enough to inform the LGBT community about local laws prior to departure. If that’s not an indicator that we need to focus on this area, we don’t know what is.
Virgin Holidays features in The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) 2nd Global Report on LGBT Tourism, which was launched at the Annual Convention of the International Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Association (IGLTA) in Florida. The report promotes the opportunities for LGBT tourism and provides useful guidance for those destinations and businesses keen to support its continued growth. It also includes an overview of the highlights and recent global trends of LGBT tourism, along with a review of the current state of LGBT rights around the world.
“In the last years, LGBT tourism has experienced continued growth, being today widely recognized as an important and promising segment of tourism worldwide. This segment can be a powerful vehicle for economic development, social inclusion and the competitiveness of tourism destinations,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
Virgin Holidays have supplied a case study for the report which outlines the steps we are taking to improve diversity in the workplace, raise awareness of opportunities in the LGBT market and encourage tolerance in travel destinations. As Mark Anderson, Virgin Group LGBT Champion acknowledges, “we’re on a journey but Virgin Holidays has a role to play as a force for good.” He adds “We want everyone to feel comfortable when travelling abroad and encourage everyone, regardless of their sexuality, to take on the world. We will continue to address this complex issue, and will be a proactive force for change in the LGBT community.”