Gay, lesbian and bi-sexual men and women are just as likely to visit New York City because the city is LGBT friendly as the are for great food, and more likely to visit for those reasons than nightlife, diversity, arts and culture and shopping, says a new report.
The study by city tourism partner NYC and Company, which polled 3,503 self-identifying members of the LGBT community, also found different travel trends within the community. Gay and bisexual men are more likely to spend their time in New York out at clubs or shopping, while lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to seek out family friendly activities, music and live performances and LGBT community events.
An estimated 7 million LGBT tourists visit New York City every year, according to NYC and Company , the city’s official tourism partner.
"We come for both the city being LGBT-friendly, and were going to a Broadway show tonight," said Ladd LeBus, who was visiting with his partner, Brad Page, from Austin and finishing up a drink at the Stonewall Inn.
"We've been visiting for 30 years, and used to come because Texas was so homophobic," LeBus added.
“I think gay travel is a layer of travel,” said Billy Kolber, founder of ManAboutWorld Magazine, a travel magazine for gay men that recently launched an app to help visitors explore LGBT New York by CitiBike. “Nobody goes to a destination just because it’s gay-friendly, though there certainly was a time even 20 years ago when gay people weren’t as free to travel as many places.”
LGBT travel is diverse within itself, Kolber says, with travelers interested in luxury, family, romantic and other experiences.
“Children-friendly trumps gay-friendly every time when making family travel decisions. New York is a place gay families will visit that they won’t stick out in any ways, where the dads and moms way leave kids with a sitter to go out and explore gay nightlife … then take the family to Sheridan Square to talk about the importance of the Stonewall Riots,” Kolber said.
Staffo Dobrev, who lives in Boston, was preparing to hop a bus to New York last Friday.
“It’s always a pleasure going back to New York and diving into the scene," said Dobrev, 27, who previously lived in New York and says Pride events have brought him back for the first time in three years. “I also like the little also like the fact that lot of little independent art shops and little cinemas and stuff like that always showcase independent artist works, that is always a very big draw for me, always something looking forward to doing.”
Dobrev, who recently moved back to the East Coast from West Hollywood, said he finds the LGBT scene in New York more “eclectic” with a “wider variety of personalities.”
“In L.A. the guys tend to all strive to fit and fall under one category, while in New York people embrace individuality and their individual oddities, which makes for a much more vibrant and interesting experience.”