AUSTRALIA is tipped to develop a same-sex Asian wedding tourism industry now that marriage equality laws have been passed, according to global marketing consultancy Out Now.
Australia’s upper house Senate last Wednesday passed a measure to legalise same-sex marriage, perhaps as soon as this week, after lawmakers dismissed a conservative push to allow religious objectors to refuse service to same-sex couples.
Given Australia’s proximity to Asia, coupled with the fact that other destinations for same-sex weddings in the region are limited to Taiwan, Vietnam and New Zealand, the Land Down Under will likely be a popular option for those couples looking to tie the knot.
“Out Now is certain that Australia’s tourism industry can expect to reap large and growing financial benefits thanks to the introduction of marriage equality in Australia,” Out Now CEO Ian Johnson told The New Daily.
“Out Now is also tracking Asia as an increasing source for inbound travellers to Australia. There is a growing middle-class and LGBT people are becoming increasingly open and visible in a number of Asian countries.”
A 2016 report from Out Now found the global lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travel market is now worth over US$211 billion in consumer spending per year, making it a highly lucrative sector. LGBT-friendly government policy is the first step to securing a healthy interest from this demographic.
According to a report by UN World Tourism Organisation, the granting of marriage rights for same-sex couples has produced a whole new segment of the travel industry and providers in both source countries and destinations are keen to develop new products and services to respond to this.
When marriage rights are approved, it tends to be the older, consolidated couples that are the first to travel to get hitched. This is a different demographic to the more common, and more visible segment of the travelling LGBT community, who tend to be younger and often single. With different interests and expectations of their travel experiences, this older crowd brings with it opportunities for business growth in those sectors of interest.
Beyond just the economic benefits, the approval of such legislation sends a clear message of tolerance, respect, progress and open-mindedness to the world that reflects well on the country and is received well among younger travellers on the whole.
In 2013, New Zealand became the first Asia-Pacific nation to legalise same-sex marriage. It has benefited financially from Australia’s delay in doing so.
According to government statistics for 2016, half of all same-sex marriages and civil unions registered in New Zealand in 2016 were couples living overseas, compared with 11 percent of opposite-sex couples.
As Australia looks towards a rainbow bright future, “love” may not be the only winner.