Double-income: In the US alone, it is estimated that gay ­people pump $790 billion into the economy. *iStock photo
Double-income: In the US alone, it is estimated that gay ­people pump $790 billion into the economy. *iStock photo

The gay market is worth billions of dollars a year — and tourism authorities and companies in other parts of the world are increasingly targeting the sector in a bid to boost income.

In America alone – Bermuda’s biggest market — it is estimated that gay people pump around $790 billion a year into the economy, while the UK gay market alone has more than $80 billion a year to spend.

And the Gay European Travel Association estimates that Europe-wide, gay people spend nearly $63 billion on travel alone.

Marie O’Dwyer, a lecturer in consumer behaviour at the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland, said: “The whole idea that members of the gay community are successful, have big dual income households with substantial disposable incomes and live in mostly urban areas with the likelihood of no children, means that this is one market segment that is here to stay.

“This growing sub-culture has an escalating discretionary income that far exceeds their heterosexual counterparts.”

She added that the gay honeymoon market in the UK and Ireland is worth at least $600 million a year.

Major car firms like Subaru and Volkswagen have been successful in targeting the gay market in the US, while in the UK, Lloyds TSB bank, furniture chain IKEA, Pepsi and Heinz have all run adverts designed to appeal to gay audiences.

An article in the prestigious London-based Financial Times said in 2010 that gay spending was influenced by perceived acceptance, according to research by gay rights group Stonewall.

The report added: “The gay community is much more likely to buy goods and services from a brand that is known to be gay-friendly, according to a study carried out by Stonewall last year.”

But, in the same article, another expert warned that, if places like Bermuda want to capitalize on the lucrative gay market, time was running out as gay people were increasingly part of the mainstream and raising families.

Nick Gadsby, associate director of research firm Lawes Consulting, said the rise in civil partnerships and gay marriage means gay families “will become a more conventional part of British society.”

He added: “What you’re going to see is a lot more gay couples settling down to a relatively traditional conservative life of shopping at Sainsbury’s and trying to get their kids into the best school.”

Ian Morrison, head of global campaign marketing at UK tourism authority VisitBritain, told the Financial Times: “We identified two niche segments that we have begun working with in some markets – ‘Gen Y’ youth and gay and lesbian.

“It’s a growing segment increasing in wealth. The cliché of ‘double income, no kids’ certainly rings true. The gay community in the US travels more than their mainstream counterparts – 87 per cent of this segment have passports compared with the national average of 28 per cent, for example.”

Britain was recently voted the most gay-friendly country in Europe.

But Mr Morrison added that segment-style advertising worked better than a “one size fits all” approach.

Mr Morrison said: “Targeting the ‘gay market’ is like referring to the ‘Asian market’ – there is no single gay consumer.

“Another thing that is often missed is on-ground support — in the US, we have found sponsorship of events highly successful.

“It’s not the most immediate way to see return on investment but it’s a way to drive future brand preference and can pay dividends.”