New research from Virgin Holidays reveals the uncomfortable disparity between the experiences of LGBT+ and straight couples on holiday – with many LGBT+ holiday-makers opting to ‘go back into the closet’ whilst abroad.
It’s not surprising that 84% of straight couples are at ease showing affection to a partner abroad, in fact, the majority being even more affectionate that when at home.. This stands in stark contrast to LGBT+ travelers, with only one in twenty showing open affection with a loved one whilst abroad.
With this in mind Virgin have released a new promo film to higlight the disparity:
The research, conducted amongst a representative sample of both LGBT+ and straight UK adults, showed:
- One in three LGBT+ travelers have experienced discrimination – including judgement and ridicule
- This includes being stared at (58%) or laughed at (35%) and a third (29%) had been verbally abused
- One in ten LGBT+ travelers have been threatened with physical violence on holiday
- Two thirds ofLGBT+travelers even feel uncomfortable with everyday activities such as applying sunscreen to their partner’s back
Sir Richard Branson commented: “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.”
LGBT+ couples said the discrimination was evident in tourists from around the world (40%) with one in four saying they had been discriminated by other British holidaymakers.
However, hoteliers played a big role in the issue with a third of LGBT travelers saying they feared judgement from hotel staff and more than half have had their relationship status questioned, including being offered single hotel rooms and having their beds separated by housekeeping staff.
This has resulted in eight out of ten couples refusing to hold hands on holiday at all, with more than half refusing to hold hands in the comfort and safety of their hotel.
Joe Thompson, Managing Director at Virgin Holidays, comments: “Holidays should be relaxing, fun and full of adventure. Unfortunately for LGBT+ people this still isn’t always the case. We want everyone to take on the world and that’s why we’re working with one of the biggest issues driven publishers to continue to raise awareness of the issues faced by LGBT+ travelers on holiday, and to work with our partners abroad, to give customers the best experience possible.”
In 2016 Virgin Holidays 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. This year the tour operator has focused on using its influence to advance LGBT+ equality in conservative regions such as the Caribbean.
At the Caribbean Hoteliers and Tourism Association Conference in Miami the travel company convened close to 100 of the most influential industry stakeholders, and laid out the argument for LGBT inclusion. Despite the Caribbean having some repressive laws, the Association has agreed to establish its first-ever working group to address LGBT issues in the region.
The most recent partnership with issues-driven content publisher ATTN: has been released as part of the overall business objective to better educate customers about the issue, and encourage positive change to tackle discrimination.