Lonely Planet Writer

Spain continues to grow as top international destination for LGBT travellers

Between Sitges, Ibiza and Gran Canaria, Spain has long been known as one of the most popular international locations for LGBT travellers.

Clubbers in Ibiza.
Clubbers in Ibiza. Image by Stephen Carter / CC BY 2.0

Just how popular though has been made clear by new research which reveals the importance to Spain of the powerful ‘pink pound’. While tourism has been booming in the country in general with a 12% growth in 2015, gay tourism has seen even more spectacular growth with an estimated 28% increase last year.

The findings came from research carried out by Cromosomax, a popular Spanish gay website, which spoke to promoters, owners of bars, hotels and guesthouses that focus on LGBT travellers, and other specialised travel agencies.

Revelers hold a rainbow flag during the Gay Pride Parade in Ibiza on July 11, 2015
Revelers hold a rainbow flag during the Gay Pride Parade in Ibiza on July 11, 2015 Image by JAIME REINA/Getty Images

According to their figures, the average LGBT tourist spends in and around €130 each day after getting to Spain (excluding holidays and airfares) and that is 30% higher than the general spend of the average tourist.

They calculated that LGBT tourism is worth more than €9 billion every year for the Spanish economy, which is close to one in five of every euro spent by travellers. They worked out an 18% contribution to tourism from the LGBT community, which they said is variously estimated to make up 6 to 8% of the world’s population.

According to the website, spending was higher among gay travellers because of higher disposable income and a preference for exclusive products and services. They said the largest number of LGBT tourists came from the UK, Germany and the United States.

Sitges, near Barcelona, Spain - popular with gay travellers.
Sitges, near Barcelona, Spain – popular with gay travellers. Image by Getty Images

Among the most popular locations in Spain for LBGT travellers are Sitges, a beach resort around twenty miles south of Barcelona (itself also very popular). Sitges is renowned internationally as one of the most gay-friendly places in the world, alongside cities like San Francisco, Berlin, and Toronto.

Of Europe’s ‘Big Four’ destinations for LGBT tourists, three of them – Gran Canaria, Ibiza, and Sitges – are in Spain with the fourth in Mykonos, Greece.