Barcelona awarded as 2021 best gay travel destination city outside US

Catalan capital has been recognized by the Gay Travel Awards 2021 for its effort in promoting LGBT tourism

The Pride march in Barcelona on June 30, 2018 (by Júlia Pérez)
The Pride march in Barcelona on June 30, 2018 (by Júlia Pérez) / Daniel Wittenberg

ACN | Barcelona

December 30, 2021 05:58 PM

Barcelona has become the best city outside the United States of America to travel to for the LGBT community. This is according to the 2021 Gay Travel Awards which recognized the efforts that the Catalan capital does to promote a gay-friendly tourism offer. 

The awards by travel agency Gay Travel are the most important worldwide prizes to LGBT initiatives and they are going to destinations such as Barcelona or San Francisco in the US, influencers or organizations. 

“It is an honor for Barcelona to have been selected as the best non-US city destination that promotes and supports the LGBT tourism market," president of Barcelona Tourism office Marian Muro said on Thursday. 

Some of the other destination prizes are awarded for categories such as best beach destination, family, island, or mountain, for example. Other winners in this year’s selection include the Instagram couple @michaelandmatt as the best gay travel influencers or Delta Airlines as the best gay-friendly airline company. 

Barcelona’s award was previously won by European cities such as Paris, France or Vienna, Austria.

Biggest tourist market growth

LGBT travelers are the fastest-growing segment among the different tourist profiles, according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Out of the 1.2 billion international visitors worldwide in 2016, 35 million travelers are part of the LGBT community. It represents around 3% of the global tourism sector and 15% of tourist spending.

The gay community travels up to three more times than the straight one, the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association says. These trips, also, tend to be longer and more expensive as they spend an average of three times more than other visitors. 

Spain receives around six million LGBT visitors per year spending around 40% more than other travelers. Worldwide, however, there are more than 75 countries that do not welcome the collective. 

Several anti-LGBT attacks in Barcelona in 2021

Yet, despite the award, 2021 has also seen several anti-LGBT attacks in the city reported. So far, this year the Observatory Against Homophobia has documented 281 incidents regarded as LGBTQ-phobic, ranging from non-physical aggressions to several attacks.

For instance, in the early hours of June 24, as the city of Barcelona rejoiced in Saint John’s festivities, Yuri and Andree were on their way to the Fontana metro station, in the Gràcia neighborhood, when a man stopped them and asked for a lighter. He then looked at them carefully, and said: "I’m going to kill you, faggots." 

What followed was an "extremely violent" aggression, which left them physically injured and psychologically shocked. "For a moment I thought we would not survive," said Andree, recalling the incident in an interview with the Catalan News Agency the following month.

Also, on June 5, 2021, two hundred people attended a protest in Barcelona called to condemn the string of homophobic attacks reported the weekend before, including a violent assault on a beach that left one person hospitalized after two gay couples were assaulted by a group of men who kicked and punched them.

During the protest,  Eugeni Rodríguez, the president of the city’s Observatory Against Homophobia said that it was "a response to the attacks," referring to the violent assault on the beach. 

The attacks "were not isolated but were exceptional in the sense that they were really violent," added Rodríguez.

The president of the Catalan Federation of LGTBI platforms, Manuel Peinado, stressed that homophobic attacks not only take place in Barcelona, "but all across the territory," and urged to make the situation of the LGTB community outside of Barcelona visible.