New research has revealed that gays and lesbians in Germany collectively spend €20bn (GBP 14bn)a year on travel.

Gays and lesbians take vacations slightly more frequently than heterosexuals and spend about 70% more per day.

But when looking at short trips (up to five days) the travel patterns of German homosexuals and heterosexuals differs dramatically.

While only 43% of the overall German population have taken such a short trip in the past year, 83% of all German gays and lesbians have taken at least one such trip.

On average, they took four short trips per year, most frequently a short city break. The favorite destinations are Berlin (domestic) and London (international).

The biggest study on gay and lesbian travel in the German-speaking regions of the world was released as part of the first European Conference on Gay Lesbian Travel in Berlin from October 7 to 10, 2007.

The broad study shows that travel has, indeed, a higher relevance for gays and lesbians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland than for their straight counterparts.

On average, German gays spend €1550 per vacation and €454 per short trip.

Lesbians spend €1277 per vacation and €359 per short trip. The primary travel season is off-peak.

In total, the gay and lesbian travel market in Germany is worth €20 bn per year.

Short trips are primarily taken to domestic destinations, but when it comes to vacation time, gays and lesbians love to spend that abroad.

Only 18.5% have taken a domestic vacation in the past year. The favorite foreign country is Spain (16.3%) followed by the United States (9.8%).

The study also clears up some myths and excessive expectations about the gay and lesbian travel market.

According to this study, gay men only have a slightly higher net income than straight men, lesbians make less money than straight women.

But gay and lesbian spending is obviously quite different from heterosexual spending.

Another unexpected result was the fact that, contrary to common belief, a large percentage of gays and lesbians do take advantage of package deals.

Also, only one third of German gays and lesbians make their travel arrangements at the last minute, i.e. within the last month before commencing travel.

When choosing a particular destination or travel company, gays and lesbians in Germany show a political conscience. 63% are not willing to travel to countries where homosexuals are persecuted (such as in Iran), 88% are turning away from companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“It makes sense for the tourism industry as a whole to address gays and lesbians as potential clients. They account for 15-20% of the total tourism spending in Germany, yet they only represent 7-8% of the overall population,” says Robert Kastl, CEO of Publicom GmbH which conducted the study.

The study consisted of 3566 personal and online interviews with gays and lesbians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland about their travel patterns and attitudes fielded in the summer of 2007.

The results of the study were presented at the First European Conference on Gay Lesbian Travel in Berlin.

This conference was produced by the European Gay Lesbian Travel Alliance (eglta.com), the travel division of Publicom GmbH, and attended by tourism experts and industry representatives from all over Europe.

“This first conference is off on a good start despite the fact that only 40 tourism experts attended,” says Christian Schneider-Lindbergh, eglta.com Director.

“Similar conferences in the U.S. have seen dramatic growth in the past few years. In Europe, reliable market research and the relevant partners were missing prior to 2007.”

The conference will be held annually in a different European city.