Nature and recreation versus going out and parties: Lesbians have a different focus when travelling than gay men or heterosexual women.
When Jörg Argelander is asked about a destination for lesbian customers, he recommends the island of La Réunion. “On La Réunion, the rainbow flag is not simply hung outside. The providers there are really committed to making a pleasant holiday possible for the female guests.” Like Argentina, the island in the Indian Ocean has even published a state-financed travel guide that presents selected hotels, tours or events for a gay and lesbian audience. The island also attracts both female and male travellers. An exception, says the head of the queer travel agency Over the Rainbow in Berlin. Although more and more countries are targeting homosexual tourists, most offers are aimed at men.
In 2012, Dertour, one of the largest German tour operators, published its gay travel catalogue. “However, about 90 percent of the content refers to gay men and only about ten percent to lesbian women,” says Philipp Eicker from the travel magazine Queer Travel.
Lack of special destinations
There is a lack of special destinations, lesbian hotels and tours tailored for women, says Jens Reinhardt, Product Manager of Dertour.
“This year we were able to include destinations such as Lesbos and various events aimed exclusively at lesbian audiences, but there are generally fewer products for lesbians than for gays”.
But lesbian women travel differently than gay men, for example because they are more likely to be discriminated against because of their sex. And they also travel differently than heterosexual women: their sexual orientation determines their travel behaviour. It is important for lesbian travellers to feel safe on holiday and not have to hide their sexuality.
The gay target group is perceived above all as sociable and sensual and is addressed accordingly by the travel providers. New York, Toronto or Vienna position themselves as party destinations for the whole year. Other cities lure with Pride parties, islands like Gran Canaria, Ibiza or Mykonos are considered as meeting places of the international Gay Community. This is where you travel to flirt in the bars and meet like-minded people in the design hotel. The interests of female tourists – women-friendly and safe – are not so easy to put into cool marketing slogans.
For women, parties are not so important, says Eicker from Queer Travel. Peace, relaxation and nature play a greater role. “Lesbian women are more likely to be looking for self-awareness in nature. They enjoy travelling in a group of women – without the ‘Checkermann’.” So without a dominant male travel companion or a male tour guide.
- That confirms Eva Veith, foundress of women on the way, a citizen of Berlin travel enterprise, which offers group journeys for women for 29 years. Nature and culture, good meal, benefit and health would arrive well.
- We make sure that our destinations are in beautiful landscapes.
- We keep distance of the mass tourism, offer small accommodations instead of bed castles and attach importance to ecology and the contact to the native ones.
- This could be hiking trips to a monastery, wellness trips to the Baltic Sea or a sailing trip around Mallorca.
To Veith come lesbian and heterosexual women, who want to book a journey. She offers travel for women, not for lesbians. Women’s travel, she says, is more established as a feminist tradition. “30 years ago, it was unthinkable for women to travel alone.
This required a husband or a family group
A woman alone at the hotel bar was a scandal. She was labelled a prostitute,” she says, “so we wanted to create offers that would enable women to travel in a self-determined way. Thanks to the women’s movement, such sheltered spaces are no longer absolutely necessary today. The interest in travelling in pure women’s groups, however, still exists. Also generation-spreading. It is exciting that very different women meet and have fun together. “We have very many regular customers and often hear that new friendships have developed during a tour.
However, Betti Keese says that younger lesbians often don’t get along with such traditional women’s trips. She is the owner of the newly founded Berlin travel agency Go Beyond and is proud to be “the only tour operator that specifically addresses lesbians”. Keese has written her master’s thesis on d