Lonely Planet Writer

Thailand wants to become a more LGBT-friendly destination

Thailand has cemented its reputation as being one of the most inclusive destinations in Asia by hosting the very first LGBT+ Travel Symposium: Thailand and pledging to welcome more diverse travellers.

Thailand already has a reputation for being a safe destination for same-sex couples. Photo by Hero Images

The Southeast Asian country already has a reputation as being quite safe for same-sex couples; there are plenty of gay bars and nightclubs dotted around the country and this tourism sector has been steadily growing over the last decade. Now the country is making an official bid to welcome more travellers who identify as LGBT+.

Srisuda Wanapinyosak of the Tourism Authority of Thailand spoke about LGBT+ travel in the country at the Bangkok symposium and said “our aim is to see exponential growth in Thailand as a LGBT+ destination, and we hope to be a model for this segment. We are proud that LGBT travellers can stay anywhere in Thailand with a complete peace of mind. Our kingdom is open to every possible shade under the rainbow.”

Thailand has long has an open and inclusive view of gender identity. Photo by Tim Gerard Barker

Thailand is constantly looking at new ways to expand its tourism industry as it currently makes up 18% of its GDP, which is almost double the percentage of an average country. As well as being a marker of a progressive society, LGBT tourism is also extremely lucrative. It’s currently valued at US $200 billion globally and is growing at more than double the rate of ‘mainstream’ travel.

Away from the tourism sector, Thai society is currently making steps towards a more equal society for LGBT people. A Life and Partnership Registration bill has been in the works since 2013 which would allow same-sex couples to have a civil marriage. After many delays, it’s hoped it may go before a legislative assembly before the end of the year and research shows the majority of the country are in favour of it.