MRBTA in partnership with Husbands That Travel (HTT) and Gay and Lesbian Tourism Australia (GALTA) has published its first ‘Welcoming Travel’ guide to assist and inspire LGBTQ+ travellers to the region.
The Margaret River Region is the first region in Australia to co-develop a workshop series with GALTA and Husbands That Travel which resulted in the production of the guide. GALTA and Husbands That Travel hope to replicate the program with other destinations across Australia. The overall mission is to increase LGBTQ+ representation across Australia’s travel landscape as well as connecting LGBTQ+ travellers to inclusive experiences.
In their recent study of over 500 LGBTQ+ travellers, the Husbands That Travel LGBTQ+ Traveller Survey found that WA is perceived as less friendly than all east coast states, rating only slightly more welcoming than NT. Husbands That Travel explain that “it’s not necessarily that a destination or accommodation is unfriendly, but that travellers don’t know whether it is friendly or not, and when we don’t know, the default can be to go back into the closet when we travel. In fact, 98% of LGBTQ+ travellers surveyed said that they have avoided drawing attention to their orientation or gender when at an accommodation on holiday, with 60% saying they do this often or always. Our end goal of these workshops is for LGBTQ+ travellers to more easily find inclusive travel options where they feel safe and welcomed to be their full selves from the get-go when on holiday.”
Husbands That Travel approached MRBTA after travelling across Australia for the last year and realising Australia’s lack of LGBTQ+ representation and transparent information across travel media. MRBTA was enthusiastic about increasing inclusive content across their consumer channels but wanted to be sure that the end experience would deliver on a truly inclusive and welcoming experience for visitors.
“We know that for most of our local businesses it is within their generous nature to want to provide welcoming experiences for all. The workshops provided really valuable insights into the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ travellers and how important it is to ensure an inclusive attitude is genuine and consistent across all customer touchpoints” said MRBTA CEO, Sharna Kearney.
The workshops were delivered live online and will be available to all 750 members and their staff for one year. All participants are provided a ‘Welcoming Travel Action Plan’ with 14 practical actions businesses can implement across both marketing and their product experience.
“The workshops really highlighted not only the ‘why’ but the ‘how’ to provide a welcoming travel experience. I feel very confident that our business can really take our experience to the next level with this information” said Sara Graey, Manager/Owner of Bina Maya Yallingup Escape.
“MRBTA are the first region we’ve worked with to immediately recognise the need for LGBTQ+ welcoming initiatives and jump in all hands on deck. They have been such a delight to work with and really trail-blazed the path for other RTOs and STOs to follow in the LGBTQ+ inclusive travel space” said Charlie Douty of Husbands That Travel.
Alongside this, MRBTA in partnership with Husbands That Travel and GALTA has developed criteria to be included in their Welcoming Travel landing page on Margaretriver.com. The criteria will help LGBQT+ travellers choose experiences and accommodation that is safe and inclusive. MRBTA will also continue to invest in paid content partnerships with diversity and inclusion in the forefront. Their paid content partnership with HTT which included a photoshoot, social media posts and a 7 day welcoming travel itinerary has been really successful. The itinerary is fast becoming one of the most popular on margaretriver.com and majority of that traffic coming from organic search – proving the demand among the LGBTQ+ travel market is there.
This project has received funding from the Australian Government under the Recovery for Regional Tourism program, an initiative of the $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund.