London has been named as the best international holiday destination by American gay and lesbian travellers.

In an online survey of more than 7,500 lesbian and gay travellers in the USA, more than 8% had visited London in the past 12 months, placing the city ahead of Paris and Rome – the only other European destinations to make the top 10.

According to CatererSearch.com, survey respondents indicated that they chose leisure destinations because friends recommended them, they offer unique attractions, and are known for their gay-friendliness.

Tom Wright, chief executive of VisitBritain, welcomed the result.

“We have marketed Britain as a destination in the gay and lesbian communities [in the USA] for nearly a decade,” he told CatererSearch.com.

“With US visitors down by 5% so far this year, it’s important that we tell as many of them as possible about all they can enjoy in this country.

“In the tradition of Britain’s inclusive society, our campaign expresses the diversity of experiences that all our visitors, whatever their sexuality, can enjoy here.”

In February this year, VisitBritain promised to tone down its overt sexual advertising to potential gay holidaymakers, after research found the market was turned off by the stereotypical portrayal.

The original advertising for countries including the USA, France and Germany, had used images of semi-clad men and Kylie Minogue to promote the UK’s gay scene, focusing on areas such as Brighton and Manchester.

However, according to the Daily Telegraph, the study found that gay couples were more likely to visit areas of national interest such as the Lake District.

The research found: “Gays and lesbians are not going to Britain because they might see other gays and lesbians, their motivations and triggers are similar to those of other travellers.

“They consider Britain a sophisticated, worldly destination and want to see it portrayed as such. They do not want it presented in a cheesy way.”

VisitBritain vowed to change their advertising to feature situations like same sex couples enjoying country walks or traditional British images such as Buckingham Palace guards dressed in the rainbow colours of the gay pride movement.

Robert Harkavy, managing director and founder of Respect Holidays said at the time:

“The gay market, especially relating to travel has come of age. It has outgrown unsubtle, in-your-face advertising.”