Large segments of Ireland's all-important tourism industry are pulling out all the stops to woo the moneyed gay traveler to the Emerald Isle.
Given that the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association has valued the Irish gay tourism market at $400 million, it’s not surprising that hoteliers and tour operators are keen to offer packages that appeal to same sex couples.
According to a report in the Irish version of the U.K. “Sunday Times,” 40 Irish hotels, hostels and B&Bs are members of a gay travel group called Purple Roofs. Among the gay-friendly places to stay in Ireland are Woodstock House in Co. Kilkenny, and Burren Life Balance, a holistic retreat in Co. Clare.
“It is such a growing market,” says John Colclough, who specializes in luxury travel at Adams & Butler in Dublin.
Noting that childless gay couples often have more disposable income, he added, “It’s sort of true that if you are not spending a quarter of a million bringing up a child, you can spend it on yourself.
“The average profile of gay visitors to Ireland who stay at five-star accommodation is far younger than that of straight couples.
“A lot of straight couples don’t get here until they’ve raised their families and are retired. Most gay couples who visit are in their forties.”
One hotel in Co. Mayo, the Hotel Westport, has taken to Facebook to publicize a lesbian friendly gathering this coming weekend.
“In November we had our inaugural ‘Boys Go West’ and ‘Purple Weekend,’ both of which were a success, so we’ve planned a number of fun LGBT weekends this year,” says Eithne Cosgrove, the hotel’s sales and marketing director.
A five-year-old survey carried out by “Gay Community News” found that the average gay person living in Ireland made a salary of $55,000, $17,000 more than the average Irish worker.
Irish government tourism agency Tourism Ireland is also increasing its efforts to attract the gay traveler, said a spokeswoman.