Finally, India is free from the shackles of the 157-year-old British empire law against homosexuality, after the SC yesterday in a historic judgement decriminalised section 377. As acceptance grows, so do calls for the LGBT tourism and avoiding cliches.
From LGBT-friendly destinations to party hubs, gay tourism has always been the friend of LGBT travellers. With India nowhere be to seen amongst those choices, today’s outcome can flourish India’s LGBT tourism industry.
How can India cash on LGBT tourism?
According to some LGBT tour operators, metros, as well as smaller cities, have emerged as possible destinations amongst pink travellers (which exclusively caters to the LGBT community).
This includes Kerala, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Udaipur, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, towns in the Himalayan foothills, Delhi, Goa and Kolkata.
Based on mere finances, LGBT/gay tourism industry is worth US$65 billion in the United States alone. Surveys have suggested that gays and lesbians tend to be more affluent and travel more, as much as two to three times a year.
In Asia, Thailand is considered to be the most friendliest LGBT destination. It is followed by China, Singapore, and Japan, meanwhile, India is invisible on the LGBT travel map right now.
With LGBT travellers accounting for five to 10% of global tourists, the Indian economy lost anywhere between 0.1 and 1.7 percent of its GDP because of the law. So what we have here is a lot of untouched scope in the tourism sector.
India LGBT friendly?
New age pink tour operators are breaking the barriers to make LGBT travellers feel welcome and bridge the gap between them and the locals. The advantage here is that they can manage travellers better and understand their needs
These operators make sure that services of LGBT or LGBT friendly establishments are used to ensure a comfortable and discrimination-free experience.
LGBT tourism tends to blossom during special events such as annual gay pride parades, gay neighborhood festivals and such LGBT community gatherings as chorus festivals and concerts, square dance conventions, sports meets such as Gay Games, World Outgames or EuroGames and conferences of LGBT organisations.
Some of the best LGBT events in India include the Mumbai Pride, Chennai Pride, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata Pride which attract huge numbers.
It may come as a surprise but luxury Indian hotel groups are actively seeking LGBT business. Many tours and hotel operators are eyeing the LGBT tourism market in India, with many actively training staff to be more accepting and less discriminatory.
Cities like Udaipur has a number of gay-friendly restaurants and cafes, Jaipur has LGBT-friendly neighbourhoods and people, whereas, down south, Kerala provides good opportunities for travellers looking for a therapeutic getaway.
There’s an added appeal to places that have a developing LGBT scene, like Delhi and Mumbai. Goa is also popular for its welcoming nightlife.
Decriminalizing is only the first step
Yes, the law has been abolished but people are not changing anytime soon. Moral policing is always gonna be an issue which will remain in the minds of the people around.
The stigma that someone is from the LGBT community is not going to change on a personal, professional or social front because on those levels, its the individual mindset which has to change.
One aspect of local life that surprises visitors from outside is the open affection that Indian men tend to display. From walking arm-in-arm or hand-in-hand is a sight we all have seen.
But in reality, as a foreign traveller, you are left alone as long as they don’t indulge in too much of public display of affection which is obviously against our so-called morals and values.
Overall India is hospitable and welcoming to all visitors including gay or lesbians and in most cases, it’s nearly impossible to identify if you belong to the LGBT community.
With the hearing, we expect to be a change in the mindset of the society so as to more LGBT people from different countries come to visit, going back with a worthwhile experience.
Image Credits: Google Images