Nepal will be hosting its inaugural LGBTQ+ tourism conference next month with the goal of establishing the country as an inclusive and welcoming destination for sexual minorities.
Scheduled for January 18 in Kathmandu, the two-day conference follows a landmark decision last month, making the Himalayan nation the first in South Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
According to the latest data available from the Nepal Tourism Board, in the first 10 months of 2023, Nepal welcomed around 810,000 tourists.
Tourism plays a crucial role in the Nepalese economy, serving as a significant source of foreign exchange and revenue. Approximately 6.7% of the country’s GDP is attributed to the contributions of the tourism industry.
The LGBTQ+ Travel Market
Prior to the pandemic, the global value of LGBTQ+ travelers was estimated at a staggering $218 billion.
Sunil Babu Pant, Asia’s first openly gay former parliamentarian and a prominent LGBTQ+ rights activist, expressed Nepal’s standing as a champion for LGBTQ+ rights in South Asia and emphasized the nation’s readiness for LGBTQ+ tourism.
Pant highlighted the potential to attract visitors and create job opportunities, particularly for individuals facing challenges securing employment abroad due to their distinctive identity.
Pant emphasized the importance of tapping into markets like China and India, both having substantial LGBTQ+ populations that often encounter social, cultural, and political discrimination.
Role of Travel Companies
The LGBTQ+ travel research conducted by Booking.com, in June this year, had highlighted how travel companies play a crucial role as allies in creating inclusive environments and implementing inclusive policies for LGBTQ+ travelers.
Shedding light on both the progress made and the recent setbacks faced by these communities in terms of travel experiences, the research showcased how concerns about attitudes, discrimination, and violence towards LGBTQ+ individuals have had a significant impact on their choice of travel destinations.