Creating LGBT Friendly Tourism In the Far East

An article in the South China Morning Post from April 23, 2013 points out the struggle and progress in how Hong Kong accepts and markets to members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community:

Members of the Hong Kong lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have heard the story time and again: a man and his husband check into a hotel after a long flight and grow increasingly exasperated as the smiling but confused receptionist asks for the third time: “Are you sure you don’t want separate beds?”

A gay activist who works in the travel business recalls a memorable Valentine’s Day promotional dinner when a waiter walked up to every table and presented each woman with a rose, but awkwardly skirted around a table where two men were eating. In each case somebody is made to feel out of place or unwelcome in a city that prides itself on its service, openness and hospitality.

More and more Asian destinations are courting the lucrative and rapidly growing LGBT demographic, but Hong Kong’s hospitality sector seems largely indifferent. And industry specialists like Tobias Holfelt warn that Hong Kong risks being left behind.

Holfelt is CEO of MB Market Makers, a European group that specialises in helping businesses and cities reach out to the LGBT community through staff training, marketing and targeted outreach efforts. He counts major European banks and even the city of Berlin among his clients. Although Holfelt is passionate about Asia, Hong Kong has eluded his reach despite a five-year effort to interest hotels and organisations such as the tourism board.

Finally this year he had a breakthrough – a major hotel chain invited him to help conduct staff training at a few of their properties.

Read the Full Article

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