After taking the red eye back from California, I met a few friends at the GLBT Travel Expo at the Kimmel Center on the NYU campus. I generally book my own travel and don’t restrict myself to gay ghettos, but it’s good to know what companies reach out to our community and won’t kick us off an airplane.
We collected schwag, snacked on candy, and signed up for multiple email lists for chances to win free trips (no such luck). We all agreed that a black tote bag from Delta airlines was the best giveaway. The exhibitors ranged from travel agents and tour operators to transportation companies and financial services. There were familiar vendors like Fun Maps and Go Magazine, and tourism commissions from popular destinations like Miami and cozy Vermont. A few surprises: Purim in Tel Aviv sounded fun, as did a safari in South Africa. And author Michael Luongo was there promoting his book Gay Travels in the Muslim World.
I was surprised that REI wasn’t there. Don’t they know that lesbians love camping? Also absent were other gay friendly travel destinations like Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Vieques, Madrid, or Sydney. And Olivia Cruises! Hopefully, as the expo expands, more vendors will join in.
LGBT buying power is estimated to be about $790 billion in the US. And homo travelers spend an average of 57% more than straights. Of course, disposable income of minorities does not signify equality or power, as this thoughtful critique of the concept of Black buying power asserts. Then again, why spend money somewhere unwelcoming or worse?