Can we mark the first step to become a LGBT friendly country in 2018?

The 21st century is bringing changes, especially in robotics, AI and IT development. Human rights and gender equality is another sharply changing segment.

Edouard Tripkovic Katayama

Edouard Tripkovic Katayama Advisory Consultant

Print this page

The 21st century is bringing changes, especially in robotics, AI and IT development. Human rights and gender equality is another sharply changing segment, many women becoming presidents, prime minister or company’s CEOs. In September 2017, a country announced that will allow women to enter in the stadium from January 2018 and drive from June 2018, making a big step in the local culture. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender, known as LGBT, is a community contributing a lot to the faster acceptance and respect of all human differences. Since 2000, many countries officially accepted same-sex marriages and child adoptions. That being said, 70 countries still do not recognize the same-sex relationship, punishments going up to the capital penalty.

In May 2017, UNWTO published the second edition of LGBT Tourism Global Report underlining a significant improvement in all sectors, and it is proven becoming a powerful vehicle not only for the tourism field but also for regional economic development. Research has shown that the destinations carrying out marketing actions targeting LGBT consumers, backing up with good LGBT-relevant practices and corporate social responsibility, have increased destination’s brand awareness and loyalty.

Europe and Northern Americas were the fastest by changing the laws and accepting same-sex marriage or children adoptions, while Asia is still on the track. Last June, Taiwan’s highest court concluded that same-sex marriage respects the human rights and the new law will be legal from 2019. In July 2017, 5 members of local assembly in Tokyo and Saitama Prefectures launched an Inter-Assemble League to promote LGBT people and on 9 July 2018, Osaka became the eighth municipality in Japan to issue documents recognizing same-sex partnerships. However, the certificate is ward-specific and once out of the ward boundaries, it loses its significance. According to a survey by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, over 70 percent of those in their 20s approve of same-sex unions. Talking about my real-life experience, my high school French language professor who is one of three professors I respect the most, came out saying that he prefers a man but my high opinion about his professionalism, teaching methods and human values was unshaken.

LGBT is our society’s reality and it will continue going further up to everyone’s full acceptance and understanding. In the tourism sector, LGBT improves every year its presence on global scale, for a total of USD$ 211 billion annually spending, and most of the customers are sophisticated recognizing the value for money. To create LGBT friendly destinations, it is important to create traveling conditions without any anxiety for the travelers, with dedicated bars, restaurants, hotels, events and other services. For the cities, Barcelona, London or Paris are good examples to follow. Island tourism is another segment interesting to develop, Ibiza and Canary islands in Spain, as well as Mykonos in Greece proved their concept is the good one. Talking about countries, Israel is leading the Middle East region, while Canadian Prime Minister is showing the way rising for the third consecutive year the rainbow flag on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to celebrate Pride Month. Japan has all the potential to become one of world’s top destinations for LGBT community, for its high service level, developed infrastructure and the mix of culture, tradition, art and gastronomy, combined with the capacity creating the perfect product suiting clients’ requests. Some Japanese private companies are already taking the initiatives proposing LGBT friendly products and campaigns, and the Reconstruction Agency announced that within 10 projects they are launching in Tohoku, one will be focusing on LGBT tourism, and I do hope it is the first steps of the lead as a LGBT friendly country.

Source: Japan Times, UNWTO, eTurboNews, JSPS (p.155)