Colm Howard-Lloyd, a director of Pride London, has said that companies must do more to encourage loyalty from gay customers.

Howard-Lloyd said at the European Symposium on Gay and Lesbian Tourism last week that travel agents and tour operators should show their support, rather than simply exploiting “the pink pound.”

He said: “It’s all very well to say: ‘Here’s our gay-friendly offering,’ but the minute a tour operator says it is going to do a gay programme, we would wonder why.

“We know how valuable the pink pound is and we are really quite cynical about anyone taking advantage of it.

“We’ve seen through all that and that’s why the organisations that actively work with the community and support it are the ones we trust.

“Travel companies that sponsor Pride realise there’s a bit of give and take.

“If they spend money with us then it sends a sign to us that they’re serious about our market and not trying to cash in.”

Jo Allen, one of the founders of newly-relaunched Gaypedia, the online travel information website for gays and lesbians, echoed these sentiments, and highlighted the importance and value of the gay travel market.

She told PinkNews.co.uk:

“The gay travel market is estimated to be worth in region of £5 billion annually.

“Travel agents and tour operators are starting to identify this as a growing and valuable market but often struggle to provide first hand experience of a gay-friendly destination or resort.

“This is why we are seeing gay and lesbian travellers seeking inspiration and impartial advice from fellow gay travellers online.”