A Mintel's holiday market report produced in 2006 'Gay Travel- UK' highlighted that 1.25 million overseas holidays were taken by gay people, representing a market value of ÃÂ£658 million. In respect of this, the substantial money generated through gay tourism is often referred to as 'pink pound' or 'pink dollar' (Hughes, 2006: 2). Nevertheless, Clift and Forrest (1998) identify gay tourism as a profitable niche market segment that is fast becoming a worldwide industry particularly in western societies. Today, the gay travel market is most developed in the United States (US), where gay tourism market generates approximately $54.1 billion a year that is about 10% of the total US travel industry (Ryan and Hall, 2001).
Although gay tourism began to develop in during the 1970s (Waitt and Markwell, 2006), the United States is most urbanized in gay travel mainly due to the vast range of tourism products that are available to gay holidaymakers, such as cruising, mounting walking, eco-tourism and soft adventure pursuits (Russell, 2001).
This niche market segment is expected to continue to grow due to a change in social attitudes to towards gays and lesbians over the past decade (Hughes, 2006). Studies by Stuber (2002) have found that more gay people are coming out openly about their sexuality and as this happens there is a growing tolerance of homosexuality from society (Jenkins, Khan, Morgan, Pritchard and Sedgley, 2000).
It is difficult to get a definitive sense of the level of lesbians and gay tourists in the tourism and hospitality market because relevant statistics based on gay tourism is not easy to obtain, with even less research regarding lesbian tourism stressed Hughes (2004). Perhaps, the reason behind this may due to the fact that there is an insignificant number of female respondents to the surveys maintained Hughes (2004).