HTA Issues State’s First-Ever Studies on LGBT Travel

March 16, 2017, 1:45 PM HST · Updated March 16, 1:47 PM

The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority today 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 Hawaiʻi 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 Hawaiʻi to analyze LGBT travel to the Hawaiian Islands.

Daniel Nahoopii, HTA Director of Tourism Research, said the studies present insightful information that will help Hawaiʻi tourism industry businesses to better understand how they can more effectively attract a larger segment of the LGBT travel market.


“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. “These studies also confirm that Hawaiʻi travel providers can benefit from more targeted marketing, new product offerings, and a greater understanding as to what LGBT travelers are seeking when visiting Hawaiʻi.”

Nahoopii added that the studies show LGBT Generation X and Millennial travelers offer the greatest potential for growth, especially from Asia. However, he noted that,

“Hawaiʻi 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. Increasing awareness about Hawaiʻi’s range of offerings is key to elevating interest from this younger generation of travelers.”

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 Hawaiʻi for an LBGT multi-island cruise or outdoor adventure week, and they prefer nightclubs and bars catering to Hawaiʻi’s LGBT community. However, the research showed such a preference does not exist for activities like a dinner cruise, catamaran sail, lūʻau, tour, and hikes.

Various market studies estimate that LGBT travel to Hawaiʻi can be up to 6% of total visitors from both Japan and Canada, up to 7% of total visitors from the US West, and up to 9% of total visitors from the US East.

Noteworthy points from each of the four studies on LGBT travel to Hawaiʻi include the following:

United States

  • 70% of those surveyed consider Hawaiʻi an LGBT-friendly destination, but only 27% expressed interest in making a trip to the Islands in the next two years.
  • Hawaiʻi is competing against sun and surf destinations in Florida and southern California, as well as urban destinations like San Francisco, Las Vegas and Western Europe.
  • The typical LGBT US visitor to Hawaiʻi has a household income of more than $100,000.
  • 71% of LGBT US visitors to Hawaiʻi travel with a partner.


  • Only 50% of those surveyed gave Hawaiʻi a positive rating as an LGBT-friendly destination, indicating additional education is needed about LGBT Hawaiʻi attributes.
  • Other destinations that rank favorably with LGBT Canadians include Vancouver (96%), Los Angeles (79%), Sydney (74%), and Miami/Fort Lauderdale (72%).
  • LGBT Canadians are most likely to agree that Hawaiʻi offers unique scenery, is a place to relax, and is romantic.
  • Hawaiʻi scores low as a place to easily meet other LGBT people, and also low for good value.


  • An estimated 65 million LGBT Chinese live in Mainland China and have a purchasing power of $470 billion.
  • LGBT Chinese are more likely to live in urban areas due to economic opportunities and more tolerant social environments.
  • Thailand is the top destination for LGBT Chinese, while Taiwan ranks second.
  • Most LGBT Chinese are first-time international travelers and want to explore attractions of general interest before seeking out LGBT options.


  • 12% of LGBT Australians traveled to Hawaiʻi in the past three years. California is a main competitor to Hawaiʻi, as 32% of LGBT Australians traveled to northern or southern California.
  • LGBT Australians rank Hawaiʻi as a place where the people are friendly (68% agree).
  • 35% said they would travel to Hawaiʻi for a LGBT Pride Festival (compared to 25% of US visitors).
  • The top three travel interests of LGBT Australians are interesting cuisine, historical sites and culture.


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