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Published On: Fri, Apr 28th, 2017

Maui Second-Most Visited Island for LGBT Travelers

Maui is the second-most visited island for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) travelers, according to the March report from Hawai’i Tourism Authority. Oahu is still the most-visited island.

The Tourism Authority’s survey showed that 49% of participants visited Oahu, while 42% visited Maui. Hawaii Island accounted for 37% of visits, while Kauai accounted for 26%. Just 3% of participants had visited Lanai, while 2% visited Molokai.

There may not be many LGBT-geared hotels or things to do in Maui, but tourism experts say visitors are drawn to the island’s beauty, tranquility and pristine beaches.

Visitors also come for the friendliness of the island and its welcoming community.

Maui was the most visited island among LGBT Canadians, but just 25% of LGBT Australians visited the island.

The study of Hawaii’s LGBT visitors was a first for the state, and was arranged by Community Marketing & Insights, a San Francisco-based firm. The survey asked questions related to travelers’ reasons for visiting, friendliness of the island and preferred things to do.

Public domain image/Perry-CastaƱeda Library

Participants said their primary reasons for visiting were the scenery, unique activities and relaxation. Few participants viewed Hawaii as an LGBT destination and few feel the islands are a great place to meet other LGBT people.

Still, 70% said Hawaii is an LGBT-friendly destination. The islands rank lower than Los Angeles (89%) and South Florida (86%), but still rank higher than other warm international destinations.

Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta had just a 41% friendliness rating, while the Bahamas had a 13% rating.

LGBT visitors from Japan and Canada, according to the Tourism Authority, is up 6%. LGBT visitors from the West Coast is up by 7% and the number of visitors from the East Coast has increased by 9%.

A near-equal number of LGBT men and women visited Maui, at 42% and 40% respectively. The island was favored by East Coast travelers (45%) and Baby Boomers (44%). Just 37% of West Coast participants had visited Maui. Only 35% of Generation X travelers had traveled to the island.

The study also showed that LGBT travel has changed since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages. When couples could only marry in certain states, destination weddings were the norm. Hawaii legalized same-sex marriages in 2013, and was the 15th state to do so. Now, the state’s tourism industry has seen its uptick in LGBT visitors return to a steadier pace.

Many in the industry say they will still continue marketing to same-sex couples despite the change in the law. Others have shfited their business plans to what they call more sustainable models. The famous Sunseeker hotel was sold in September and is now the adults-only Kohea Kai resort.

The Hawai’i Tourism Authority expects to release studies related to LGBT Taiwanese and Japanese travelers in the next few months.

The study’s release comes after news of a bill that seeks to make Hawai’i exempt from travel fee increases, a proposal that may boost LGBT tourism and overall travel to the islands. The bill would make the state exempt from rising TSA fees, which could have a disparate impact on the tourism-dependent economy.

Author: Jacob Maslow

photo chtfj21

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