Traditional gay holidays are stressful and offer too little in the way of relaxation and local culture, according to research by new travel company Embark.
Faced with the stereotypical holiday based around sex, drugs and all-night clubbing, most gay men would rather travel independently or with like-minded groups, the survey found.
Almost 70% of those surveyed said they would prefer to spend a long weekend taking it easy at a European health spa or exploring the Danube than hitting the nightlife in Gran Canaria, Sitges or Mykonos.
Three-quarters said they enjoyed clubbing “only occasionally,” and 82% said that “proximity to a gay scene” was not a factor in their choice of holiday destination.
“Gay men want the opportunity to opt in to a social scene but they don’t want it forced upon them,” says Embark’s managing director, former Royal Navy Lt. Commander, Rolf Kurth.
“They are turning away from what they now see as gay-ghetto destinations.
“The fact is, a night in an over-priced bar watching an unemployed navvy mime to Gloria Gaynor, followed by dancing until noon in a multi-story car park isn’t every gay man’s idea of a great holiday!”
The trend has come about with the advent of civil partnerships and more liberal attitudes towards same-sex travelling couples, which has created a boom amongst a previously silent majority of the gay travel market, many of whom are now over 30.
Embark’s research supports the recent survey commissioned by VisitBritain, which found that gay men want sophistication in travel, but still like the idea of travelling with like-minded people.
Gay couples cite the hotel check-in experience, where double-bedded room reservations are often changed to twin beds without even asking the client, as their most difficult few minutes of a holiday.
Research by VisitBritain using focus groups in the USA, France and Germany found that potential visitors were being turned off by its cheesy, stereotypical and overtly sexual campaigns, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The research found that holidaymakers were more likely to visit the Chelsea Flower Show, or the famous Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, than the UK’s gay scene.
Members of the focus groups thought the adverts designed to attract them to Britain were overly preoccupied with gay-friendly urban areas like Brighton and Manchester, when they were more interested in beauty spots like the Lake District.
Embark offer spa weekends, river cruises and activity holidays to independent gay travellers and their friends.