With Gay Pride Week and the parade in Toronto behind us this weekend, the city — as well as the Canadian tourism industry — is tallying up the numbers. Not surprisingly, they are coming up with an impressive bottom line. Just the parade alone hauls in more than $80 million to the local economy every year. But that’s not where the number game ends.
According to a recently completed study commissioned by Canada’s gay community, about 1.8 million gay and lesbian tourists poured into Canada last year, spending on average $1,166.00 per person per trip. In comparison, straight couples spent $627.00 per person per trip last year.
According to the study, gay and lesbian tourists spend more, they travel more frequently, and are more likely to travel in off-peak seasons. Part of the explanation could be that an average gay household earns $72,800.00, in contrast to $47,800.00 earned on average by a heterosexual household.
Needless to say, the Canadian tourism industry needed this boost, particularly after the industry recorded an overall 18% drop in annual visits from Americans. It seems that elevated border security measures and our surging loonie have had no impact on gay travelers, who rank Canada among the top countries to visit in the world. Better yet, much of the gay tourism market in Canada is still underexploited and mostly untapped.
It is also needless to say that tourism is extremely important to the Canadian economy. Furthermore, according to Statistics Canada, more than 500,000 Canadians work in this billion-dollar industry. But most importantly, the gay community in Canada has estimated the size of the gay and lesbian travel market to more than $75 billion. Considering that Canada’s entire travel industry brought in approximately $70 billion last year, it would be foolish indeed to ignore this booming market segment.