Study Shows Hawaii’s LGBT Market Has Major Room for Growth Among Millennials, Gen-Xers

Photo by Joe Pike

Only 27 percent of LGBT Americans who participated in a recent Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) study on LGBT tourism expressed interest in visiting Hawaii in the next two years. 

Although 70 percent of all those who participated in the study said they were aware that Hawaii is an LGBT-friendly destination, the study shows a major lull in LGBT Millennials and Gen-Xers visiting the Aloha State. Daniel Nahoopii, HTA's director of tourism research, said that the studies show LGBT Gen-Xers and Millennials offer the greatest potential for growth, especially from Asia. In fact, the study points out that an estimated 65 million LGBT Chinese live in Mainland China and have a purchasing power of $470 billion.

“Hawaii is not on their wish list of preferred travel destinations and the attributes of the Islands are not as well known to them as they are to LGBT Baby Boomers,” said Nahoopi in a written release. “Increasing awareness about Hawaii’s range of offerings is key to elevating interest from this younger generation of travelers.”

The HTA recently issued four research studies offering comprehensive findings about the profiles, preferences and sentiments of LGBT travelers from the United States, Canada, China, and Australia as it relates to the Hawaiian Islands.

Two additional studies by HTA evaluating LGBT travel to Hawaii from Japan and Taiwan are in progress and will be issued within the next couple of months.

Commissioned by HTA’s Tourism Research Division and conducted by Community Marketing & Insights, a San Francisco-based firm specializing in LGBT consumer research, the studies are the first done on behalf of the State of Hawaii to analyze LGBT travel to the Hawaiian Islands.

“We initiated these studies to provide travel industry businesses statewide with both a broader and more precise base of knowledge as to how they can capture a greater market share of LGBT travelers from our key source markets,” said Nahoopii in a written release. “These studies also confirm that Hawaii travel providers can benefit from more targeted marketing, new product offerings, and a greater understanding as to what LGBT travelers are seeking when visiting Hawaii.”

Marketing products that appeal to LGBT travelers is key to increasing loyalty to the Hawaiian Islands. For example, the studies found that LGBT travelers would be highly likely to visit Hawaii for an LBGT multi-island cruise or outdoor adventure week, and they prefer nightclubs and bars catering to Hawaii’s LGBT community. However, the research showed such a preference does not exist for activities like a dinner cruise, catamaran sail, luau, tour, and hikes.

Various market studies estimate that LGBT travel to Hawaii can be up to six percent of total visitors from both Japan and Canada, up to seven percent of total visitors from the U.S. West, and up to nine percent of total visitors from the U.S. East.

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